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In the past week, we’ve heard about wealthy families who used illegal “side-door” tactics for their son or daughter to be admitted to prestigious universities.  In some cases, they were led by William “Rick” Singer to falsely represent their kids as highly talented or elite athletes.

Why did some families falsely represent their child as a student-athlete?

Most university athletic departments have a limited number of “exemption slots.”  These slots are typically used for talented high school athletes who fall short of the university’s standard academic requirements for admission. Coaches are often allowed to use a few of these “exemptions” for athletes they recruit.

Some of the federally indicted wealthy parents created fake athlete credentials and “bought” exemption slots.  Their kids bumped legitimate student-athletes who then lost the opportunity to be admitted.

There are many stories of legitimate student-athletes who were initially admitted through an exemption slot and then went on to excel in the classroom.  I’ve seen first-hand and talked to many of these former student-athletes whose lives were changed because of academic support systems that are available to student-athletes.

The missed opportunities is what has caused such outrage among families and those of us in the industry who do things ethically.

My Advice to Parents of High School Athletes

When high school athletes excel academically, they are at an advantage and stand a much better chance of satisfying the standard admission requirements. A strong academic athlete doesn’t have to worry as much about exemption slots and being bumped out of an admission opportunity.

So my advice to parents is that their high school athletes should focus on their academics as much or more than they do on their sport!

What Happens Next

Going forward, I believe we all should assume that ACT and SAT administrators are going to be looking much more closely at “unusual” circumstances such as those reported in this scandal.

If your athlete takes the ACT or SAT test at a location far from their home, there will be more scrutiny. In those cases, students will need to explain why and perhaps show “proof” of that reason.

As potential fall-out continues, I’ll be posting updates both on our website and through our weekly eblast.  If you have questions or concerns, give us a call at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.