Whoa, Nelly! Hollywood Stars, the Rich, and College Cheating

The allegations in the federal indictment outline one heck of a cheating scandal so that the wealthiest parents could get their children into the top-ranked schools. The schools are variously described as “elite” and “best.” The Barometer, having spent four decades in the academic trenches, wishes she could have had a chat with both parents and children: Graduating from Harvard, Yale, UCLA, UT Austin, Stanford, Wake Forest, Georgetown, and USC is no guarantee of a happy or successful life. Think OJ Simpson (USC), Jeffrey Skilling (Harvard), Janis Joplin (UT Austin), and so on. (The schools were not implicated in the indictments — they were the victims). Also, there are mighty successful graduates of community college, trade schools, or no college who have done just fine. Try and get a trim carpenter, or an AC technician these days and you learn that they are as rare as hen’s teeth and as expensive as your doctor or lawyer.

These discussions aside, the list of activities that comprise the allegations include:

1. Having others take the ACT and SAT for the famous and/or wealthy kids. Bribing test administrators took care of that problem.
2. Passing off the famous and/or wealthy kids as athletes to get admission when the kids had no athletic talent or experience. Upon arrival on campus, the famous and/or wealthy kids would feign a career-ending injury.
3. The rich and/or famous parents would make donations to a fake charitable organization, Key Worldwide Foundation, that would then make payments to university employees or testing officials who would then grease the skids for the kids. After all, what good is paying a bribe if you cannot deduct it as a charitable donation?
4. The ring leader of the whole scheme, William Singer, has entered a guilty plea. A Yale soccer coach will also enter a guilty plea, i.e., the rich and famous will be thrown under the bus. The Yale soccer coach is expected to plead guilty to accepting a $400,000 bribe in order to put one of the kids on her soccer roster. The parents of the fake soccer student-athlete paid $1.2 million to the Foundation for that plot. Seems like the margins were fairly high for Singer, eh?
5. 33 of the 50 indicted are parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
6. Ms. Huffman paid $15,000 to have her oldest daughter’s SAT score altered a mere 400 points, up to 1420. Did anyone not question this wide swing? Ms. Huffman’s husband, actor William Macy was not indicted. Should be some interesting discussions over this one at home tonight.
7. Ms. Loughlin paid $500,000 to get her daughters admitted as a crew team recruits at USC. Ms. Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli (you might recognize his name from your Target designs), was also indicted.
8. The wiretapped phone calls offer a treasure trove of evidence against the charged individuals.Jane Buckingham, a boutique owner, and another charged parent, agreed to pay $50,000 to have someone else take her son’s SAT and reflected in a phone call that she knew it was all a tall order, “I know this is craziness, I know it is. And then I need you to get him into USC, and then I need you to cure cancer and [make peace] in the Middle East.” That would establish all the intent the Feds need.
9. The kids knew. Now they will be living with the Internet stories and an eternal asterisk by their degrees.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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