Ex-water polo coach guilty in Varsity Blues case
BOSTON – A decorated ex-water polo coach at USC has been found guilty in the college admissions bribery case.
Jovan Vavic was convicted by a federal jury in Boston of fraud and bribery. After the hearing, he declined to comment and left court with his family.
Vavic, 60, who guided USC’s men’s and women’s water polo teams to 16 national championships, received about $250,000 in bribes for designating unqualified students as water polo recruits so they could attend the elite Los Angeles school, prosecutors said.
Vavic’s defense argued he was just doing what he could to raise money for his dominant, championship-winning program as athletic officials at the school had demanded. They claimed he never lied or took a bribe and were victims of USC’s desire for a good reputation and to hide a “pervasive” culture of accepting wealthy students who could give them donations.
The university, which fired Vavic after his 2019 arrest, has stressed that its admissions processes are “not on trial. “
Nearly 60 people, including wealthy and famous parents as well as college coaches and athletic administrators, were charged in the Operation Varsity Blues case, including “Full House” star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli.
Also on Friday, Mark Riddell was sentenced to four month in prison. Riddell was a former Florida prep school administrator who took college entrance exams for wealthy students looking to get into elite universities. The Harvard graduate who was a key figure in this scandal admitted to secretly taking the ACT/SAT in their place or correcting their answers.
Riddell, who had been cooperating with federal authorities in hopes of getting a lesser sentence, pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges in April 2019.
U.S. The four-month sentence was recommended by Rachael Rollins, Attorney for Massachusetts. In their own sentencing memo Riddell’s lawyers had suggested a one to two month sentence for Riddell. They said that he was not the ringleader of this scheme or a university insider like the coaches or college administrators.
Riddell apologised to students who were denied college opportunities due to his “terrible decision.” “
Riddell was responsible for college entrance exam preparation at IMG Academy in Bradenton. It is a school that claims to be the largest sports academy in the world.
Authorities claim that Rick Singer, the admissions consultant, bribed test administrators so Riddell could pretend to proctor exams for students in order to cheat. Singer typically paid Riddell $10,000 per test to rig the scores, prosecutors said.
Riddell, who was fired from IMG Academy, made more than $200,000 by cheating on over 25 exams, prosecutors said.
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