Ex-Yale coach pleads guilty for soliciting almost $1 million in bribes in college admissions scandal

John Bacon and Joey Garrison

A former soccer coach at Yale University pleaded guilty Thursday in Boston to fraud-related charges after authorities say he solicited almost $1 million in bribes from wealthy parents seeking to gain admission for their children into the prestigious school.

Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith, 51, plead guilty to federal charges related to the largest-ever nationwide investigation that resulted in charges against 50 people, according to court documents released this week. As part of the deal, the government says it wants Meredith to forfeit more than $865,000. 

Meredith resigned as head women's soccer coach in November after 24 years, saying it was "time to explore new possibilities and begin a different chapter in my life." At the time, Yale Athletic Director Victoria Chun lauded Meredith for his dedication and leadership. 

"I have admired Rudy's successes and I am grateful for all he has contributed," Chun said then. "I wish nothing but continued success for Rudy and his family."

Federal prosecutors say that in November 2017 Meredith accepted an "athletic profile" for an applicant's credentials that falsely described her as co-captain of a prominent soccer club in Southern California. Meredith allegedly used that profile to classify her as a women's soccer player, and she gained acceptance into the university.

Rick Singer, the alleged mastermind of the scheme, sent Meredith a check of $400,000 around Jan. 1, 2018, according to indictment. In all, prosecutors say, the father and other relatives of the student paid Singer $1.2 million, including $900,000 into a charitable account Singer set up through his college counseling organization called The Key. 

Yale response: Yale rescinds admission of student linked to bribe

The FBI later secretly recorded Meredith in a Boston hotel room where he allegedly agreed to designate a different young woman, identified in court documents as "Applicant 2," as a Yale soccer player in exchange for $450,000. Prosecutors say he accepted an initial payment of $2,000 in cash at the hotel and later received $4,000 through a wire transfer into a Connecticut bank account.

The financial arrangement was part of an FBI sting operation after a financial executive wanting leniency in a securities case tipped federal authorities that Meredith sought a bribe to get his daughter into Yale. Meredith ultimately cooperated with the FBI.

Yale President Peter Salovey said this week the school confirmed the pre-admission athletic credentials dating to 2015 of all members of the school's athletic teams who received an athletic endorsement during the admission process.

"Furthermore, with the exception of the single student who was fraudulently admitted, we have determined that all enrolled Yale students who were admitted with an athletic endorsement played at least one season on their varsity sports team," he said. 

The school has said it believes Meredith gave “fraudulent athletic endorsements” for only two applicants. The school rescinded the admission of the student who was admitted into the school, he said. The other was denied admission despite Meredith’s endorsement.

Admissions cheating: 12 defendants plead not guilty in Boston court

Singer has pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy. Twelve defendants, including six former college athletic coaches and two test administrators, pleaded not guilty Monday to racketeering conspiracy charges.

The group included four former employees of the University of Southern California, where actor Lori Loughlin and her fashion-designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying bribes totaling $500,000 to gain admission for their two daughters.

The group also included former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst, who’s accused of obtaining $2.7 million in bribes to designate at least 12 applicants as recruits to Georgetown University. Ernst was the personal tennis coach for former first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters.

The 12 are free on bail, and each faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 in fines and 3 1/2 years of court supervision if convicted.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ex-Yale coach pleads guilty for soliciting almost $1 million in bribes in college admissions scandal