Former Southern Cal athletic director Pat Haden is being investigated for a potential role in the national college-admissions cheating scandal that has involved several high-profile universities, including USC, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The federal investigation reportedly involves possible ties between Haden, USC’s AD from 2010 to 2016, and William “Rick” Singer, who allegedly organized the scam, the Journal reported, through a person familiar with the investigation.
It has yet to be determined if Haden will face criminal charges.
The scheme involved fraudulently altering test scores and getting students admitted to some of the top universities in the country as recruited athletes — regardless of athletic ability — while funneling bribes to men’s and women’s coaches at schools such as USC, Yale, Stanford, Texas and UCLA.
“Like many people, I was introduced to Mr. Singer several years ago by a friend,” Haden said in a statement provided to the Journal by his son-in-law. “I was unaware of his illegal activities and had no ongoing relationship with him whatsoever.”
Haden did introduce Singer to Donna Heinel, a former USC senior associate athletic director, and said because of Singer’s connections would be “someone Ms. Heinel should work with,” according to the Journal, through another person familiar with the matter.
Prosecutors indicated that clients of Singer paid more than $1.3 million from 2014-18 to USC accounts under Heinel’s control during that time. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy.
U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling in March called it the “largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the department of justice.” He said part of the charges were related to securing admission to elite colleges by bribing coaches under false pretenses.
“In return for bribes, these coaches agreed to pretend that certain applicants were recruited, competitive athletes, when, in fact, the applicants were not. As the coaches knew, the students’ athletic credentials had been fabricated.”
One of the schemes involved parents paying Singer, the founder of a college prep business, $15,000 to $75,000 to have someone take the SAT or ACT for their children. He allegedly accepted $25 million in bribes from wealthy parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, from 2011-18. He has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud and obstruction of justice.
Along with Heinel, USC women’s soccer coaches Ali Khosroshahin and Laura Janke, and men’s and women’s water polo coach Jovan Vavic have been implicated in the scandal and are no longer associated with the university.
—Field Level Media