Feds investigate USD, UCLA, USC in connection with admissions scandal

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SAN DIEGO — The University of San Diego, UCLA and USC were among eight universities notified they were under investigation by the  Department of Education in connection with the college admissions scandal, it was reported Tuesday.

Investigators would be looking into whether the schools violated laws “governing the Federal student financial aid programs” or other laws,  according to a document reviewed by the political news website, Politico. If violations are found, the schools could be penalized up to having  access to Pell Grants and federal student loans cut off.

The schools were each notified Monday they faced an investigation  connected to the criminal charges federal prosecutors announced earlier this  month.

The document stated the allegations made against the schools by the Justice Department “raise questions about whether your institution is fully meeting its obligations,” Politico reported.

In addition to UCLA and USC, presidents of Yale University, Wake  Forest University, Stanford University, Georgetown University and the  University of Texas at Austin received similar letters.

The letters cite a wide range of federal education regulations and  laws that investigators are exploring, including that universities receiving  federal student aid must have proper procedures and policies to administer federal money, Politico said.

As part of the investigation, the universities were ordered to provide a list of the names of all students whose admission was brought up in the  Justice Department’s investigation.

Education Department investigators also ordered the universities to  turn over documents they used in marketing and promoting their schools,  including any statement made to organizations that rank schools, such as U.S. News and World Report and internal control policies and procedures related to  admissions for recruited athletes, the website said.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has called the scandal “disgraceful” and urged her department to determine if any of the agency’s regulations  had been violated.

Thirteen people, including Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and  Felicity Huffman, were arrested March 13 in connection with an alleged  multimillion-dollar nationwide bribery scheme to get students into elite  colleges, including USC, UCLA and Stanford.

The alleged conspiracy focused on getting students admitted to  prestigious universities as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic  abilities, and helping potential students cheat on their college exams, according to a 50-defendant indictment unsealed in federal court in Boston.

There’s no indication that the schools were involved in any of the wrongdoing.

Loughlin, best known for her role in the sitcom “Full House,” and Huffman, who starred in the ABC show “Desperate Housewives,” are charged with  conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud, according to the  indictment.

Huffman is accused of paying $15,000 disguised as a charitable  donation to the Key Worldwide Foundation to aid her oldest daughter’s  university prospects. A confidential informant told investigators that he told  Huffman he could arrange for a third party to correct her daughter’s answers on  the SAT after she took it, The Washington Post reported. She ended up scoring a  1420 — 400 points higher than she had gotten on a PSAT taken a year earlier.

Huffman also contemplated running a similar scam to help her younger  daughter, but ultimately did not pursue it, the complaint alleges.

Both Huffman and Loughlin were released from custody after posting bail and were ordered to appear in federal court in Boston on March 29.

UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo, who is charged with conspiracy  to commit racketeering for his alleged participation in the scheme, resigned  Thursday. Salcedo, who had been UCLA’s coach since 2004, had been on leave  since March 12 when federal authorities announced indictments in the case.

USC last week fired senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel  and USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic, who were among those indicted in the  case.

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