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Updates regarding college admissions investigation

Updated: “USC information on college admissions issue”

Posted Tuesday, August 12, 2019, at 12 p.m.


Updated: “USC information on college admissions issue”

Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2019, at 12 p.m.


Updated: “USC information on college admissions issue”

Posted Wednesday, June 19, 2019, at 12 p.m.


Update from USC interim President Wanda M. Austin regarding college admissions investigation

Released Monday, June 17, 2019, at 4 p.m.

Dear USC community,

I write to provide an update on the university’s review of students connected to the potential submission of false information in their applications to USC.

We are continuing to work through a very thorough, deliberative process for each student case under review. Each of the students is entitled to a fair and impartial process as detailed in our policies, and we are taking the time needed to make sure that those processes are followed carefully.

We recently completed the investigative process for a group of students under review and this week notified those students of the determination on their case. These follow earlier determinations involving applicants in the most recent admissions cycle, when applicants were denied admission as facts and evidence warranted.

All students are protected by federal privacy laws, so the university is unable to share information on the individual case outcomes. What we can say is that the university remains committed to making the appropriate decisions based on the facts of each case. As we stated previously, those outcomes range from no finding of violation to revocation of admission or expulsion.

Investigations are ongoing for other students related to possible admissions violations. We will provide similar general updates after the investigative process is concluded for those students still under review.

We understand and share our community’s desire to have updates in a timely manner. Our priority has been, and will continue to be, doing the investigations the right way. Details about our review process, as well as our enhanced processes for reviewing student-athlete applications, are posted on the USC News website.

Meanwhile, we are taking the necessary steps to safeguard the integrity of our admissions process and to ensure we conduct ourselves in a manner that is consistent with our values.

Through it all, I continue to be impressed with the engagement and commitment of our USC community to improve our culture and make our university even stronger.

Sincerely,

Wanda M. Austin
Interim President


Updated: “USC information on college admissions issue”

Posted Monday, June 17, 2019, at 12 p.m.


Letter from USC interim President Wanda M. Austin regarding college admissions investigation

Released Wednesday, April 24, 2019, at 4:57 p.m.

Dear USC community,

I want to update you on the significant steps we have taken to review and strengthen our admissions process for prospective student-athletes since the U.S. Justice Department investigation was announced last month. We are determined to take all necessary steps to safeguard the integrity of our admissions process and to ensure we conduct ourselves in a manner that is consistent with our values.

While we continue to cooperate with the government’s investigation, and while our own investigation led by the Office of Professionalism and Ethics remains ongoing, USC has greatly strengthened its process for reviewing applications of prospective student-athletes, effective this month. The improved procedures provide multiple levels of oversight and ensure that our admissions staff receive accurate information about these prospective students.

  • Every student-athlete candidate’s file will be reviewed on three levels – by the head coach, the senior sports administrator overseeing the team, and the USC Office of Athletics Compliance – before being sent to the admissions staff.
  • The head coach will certify in writing that the student is being recruited for athletic abilities.
  • Athletic rosters will be audited at the beginning and end of every academic year and cross-checked with admissions lists.

This enhanced policy is currently in force for any student-athlete considered for admission during the 2019-20 academic year.

Meanwhile, the university is presently reviewing the status of certain currently enrolled students. Their cases are proceeding through the USC Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards (SJACS) process. Each of those students has been notified of the review and given a deadline for response. Most have completed initial interviews. The possible outcomes range from no finding of violation to revocation of admission, and will depend on the facts of each case.

While student-athlete admissions is at the center of the Justice Department’s allegations, USC will also examine the wider scope of how students gain admittance to our university.

Apart from the previous employee terminations, if the ongoing investigations reveal additional misconduct, appropriate employment actions will be taken.

Ensuring the integrity of our admissions process remains a top priority of university leadership. I appreciate the patience of our community as we continue to work toward making our university stronger.

Sincerely,

Wanda M. Austin
Interim President


Updated: “USC information on college admissions issue”

Posted Wednesday, April 24, 2019, at 12 p.m.


Updated: “USC information on college admissions issue”

Posted Monday, April 8, 2019, at 12 p.m.


Updated: “USC information on college admissions issue”

Posted Wednesday, April 3, 2019, at 12 p.m.


Updated: “USC information on college admissions issue”

Posted Wednesday, March 27, 2019, at 12 p.m.


Updated: “USC information on college admissions issue”

Posted Monday, March 18, 2019, at 12 p.m.


Update from USC interim President Wanda M. Austin regarding college admissions investigation

Released Thursday, March 14, 2019, at 7:22 p.m.

Dear USC community,

I write to update you on actions we have taken in response to the U.S. Justice Department’s ongoing investigation of the college admissions scheme that targeted several universities across the country, including USC. I want to assure you that I share your disappointment and concern about this matter.

These recent revelations run counter to our values, which prioritize admissions based on merit and opportunity for all qualified candidates. Our record of diversity among students selected for admission is a particular point of pride for me.

We will do all that is necessary to continue to strengthen our culture and to restore trust within our community. This morning, I briefed members of the USC Board of Trustees on the steps we are taking, and they voiced their full support for any and all appropriate actions.

On Tuesday, we announced that we terminated two employees associated with the allegations. We also placed on leave a faculty member, who was named in the federal indictment as a parent. This leave is a required procedural step in the process for terminating tenured faculty. More employment actions may be possible as new facts come to light.

Since that time, we have also:

  • Opened our own investigation into the matter while remaining in full cooperation with the U.S. Justice Department.
  • Began the process of identifying donations that may have been received in connection with the alleged scheme. We will determine how best to redirect those funds for scholarships benefiting underserved student applicants.
  • Announced our decision to deny admission to applicants in the current admissions cycle who are connected to the alleged scheme.
  • Initiated a case-by-case review of current students and graduates who may be connected to the alleged scheme. We will make informed decisions about those cases as the reviews are completed. USC’s Office of Professionalism and Ethics, Student Affairs, and Admissions and Enrollment are conferring on this process to ensure the university follows the appropriate course.

Moving forward, we will take all necessary steps to safeguard the integrity of our admissions process and to ensure we conduct ourselves with integrity and ethics consistent with our values.

Sincerely,

Wanda M. Austin
Interim President


Letter from USC interim President Wanda M. Austin regarding college admissions investigation

Released Tuesday, March 12, 2019, at 8:47 a.m.

Dear USC Community,

I want to inform you of an ongoing wide-ranging criminal investigation involving universities nationwide, including USC. The government has made a public announcement and disseminated the charging documents. The federal government has alleged that USC is a victim in a scheme perpetrated against the university by a long-time Athletics Department employee, one current coach and three former coaching staff, who were allegedly involved in a college admissions scheme and have been charged by the government on multiple charges.

At this time, we have no reason to believe that Admissions employees or senior administrators were aware of the scheme or took part in any wrongdoing—and we believe the government concurs in that assessment. The government has repeatedly informed us that it views USC as a victim and that these employees purposefully deceived USC.

We have planned significant remedial efforts. We will take all appropriate employment actions. We will review admissions decisions. We are identifying all funds received that may be connected to the government’s allegations. And we will be implementing significant process and training enhancements to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.

It is immensely disappointing that individuals would abuse their position at the university in this way.

As our work on culture and values continues, we must take the appropriate action when we become aware of behavior that is contrary to our values. I appreciate the efforts of the staff who diligently responded to the government’s investigation, and for the broad commitment of our community to address problems as we learn of them.

We will continue to cooperate fully with all law enforcement and regulatory investigations.

Wanda M. Austin
Interim President

Updates regarding college admissions investigation

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