Liberal Democrats, too lazy and stupid to compete
scholastically. This is the result of the present day inferior
California school system, once the envy of the entire free
world, after 40 years of Democrat control and parasitic
socialist union infestation.
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LOS ANGELES â€” On the palm-tree-lined campus of the University of
Southern California this week, a tour guide proudly pointed out
to prospective students the universityâ€™s six Heisman football
trophies and award-winning faculty, testaments to the stellar
reputation the school has fought hard to build.
Yet only a day earlier, U.S.C. had emerged at the epicenter of
an unfolding college admissions scandal involving federal
charges of bribery, cheating and parents who were willing to pay
thousands of dollars to get their underperforming children into
some of the nationâ€™s top universities.
Of the nearly three dozen parents named in court documents
unveiled this week, more than half are accused of bribing their
way into the elite private campus in the heart of Los Angeles.
Four U.S.C. athletics officials are charged with taking bribes,
more than the number named at any other school. Donna Heinel,
one of the universityâ€™s top athletics administrators, helped get
more than two dozen students admitted as athletes, federal
prosecutors charged, though none of them were qualified to play
Reeling from what was only the latest scandal to unfold over the
past two years, campus officials insisted this week that U.S.C.
was a victim in the bribery and cheating case and vowed to
reject any applicants involved in fraudulent admissions.
â€śThis will not set us back in any way,â€ť Wanda Austin, the
interim president, said in an interview. â€śWe have parents who
set a horrible example, and employees who clearly acted in a way
that showed they need to be fired.â€ť
The campus today is far different from the one students
encountered decades ago when the school was better known as a
home for the children of Los Angelesâ€™s wealthy elite, snidely
referred to as the â€śUniversity of Spoiled Children.â€ť In the
1990s, the university began an extensive overhaul, building on
its reputation as an athletic powerhouse and ranking
academically among the nationâ€™s top-tier schools.
It recruited star faculty, including six Nobel laureates, and
raised standards for admission, admitting last year only 13
percent of those who applied. The campus also made a major
investment in its athletic programs, winning national football championships, while also drawing top athletes to play tennis,
water polo, volleyball and track.
But a series of corruption scandals has torn through the
university, threatening those years of image building.
In 2017, the medical school dean was fired over accusations of
drug use and prostitution, and his successor resigned after
allegations of sexual harassment. After yet another scandal
emerged in 2018, involving a campus gynecologist accused of
sexual misconduct, the universityâ€™s president, C.L. Max Nikias,
was forced to step down. Then at the end of last year, the dean
of the business school was ousted over the mishandling of
workplace misconduct claims.
How the university built itself up only to be undermined by such
profound internal turmoil has left students, parents, faculty
and the vast Trojan alumni network wondering whether the
university can manage to maintain its stature. It has also
prompted many to begin asking: Has the push to raise money to
boost the schoolâ€™s programs gone too far? Is everything at
U.S.C. for sale?
Josh Meltzer, who graduated in 2002, said he has been alarmed by
the â€śapparently constant lack of ethical and responsible
leadershipâ€ť in the last several years.
According to the federal indictment, Jane Buckingham, a Beverly
Hills marketing executive, discussed how to get her son into
U.S.C. with William Singer, the admissions counselor who has
pleaded guilty in the scandal.CreditRandy Shropshire/Getty
Images for Girlboss, Inc.
â€śU.S.C. prides itself on creating this massive Trojan family and
alumni are constantly asked to support the university with
donations, but itâ€™s hard to imagine doing that right now,â€ť Mr.
Meltzer said. â€śWhen I was a freshman I looked around at our
class and was proud it certainly wasnâ€™t all rich kids â€” we were
coming from a lot of diverse backgrounds and had done really
well in high school.â€ť
Ms. Austin has vowed to have more accountability and
transparency and said that the school would reject any current
applicants who are connected to the bribery scheme. She and
others at the campus have expressed shock at the brazen
willingness of parents, as described in the charging documents,
to subvert the admissions system.
In one conversation referred to in the indictment and captured
by a wiretap, a Beverly Hills marketing executive, Jane
Buckingham, discussed how to get her son into U.S.C. with
William Singer, the admissions counselor who has pleaded guilty
to organizing the bribery and cheating scheme. She admitted that
it was a reach.
â€śI need you to get him into U.S.C., and then I need you to cure
cancer and [make peace] in the Middle East,â€ť Ms. Buckingham said.
â€śI can do that,â€ť Mr. Singer replied.
Yet even the chairman of the universityâ€™s board of trustees,
Rick J. Caruso, a Los Angeles real estate developer, emerged
with a personal connection: As prosecutors announced that the
Hollywood star Lori Loughlin was being charged with bribing her
daughterâ€™s way into U.S.C., the daughter was on Mr. Carusoâ€™s
yacht, sharing a spring break vacation in the Bahamas with Mr.
â€śMy daughter and a group of students left for spring break prior
to the governmentâ€™s announcement yesterday,â€ť Mr. Caruso said in
a statement. â€śOnce we became aware of the investigation, the
young woman decided it would be in her best interest to return
The bribery allegations, he said, were â€śjust unthinkable.â€ť
Mark Piccirillo, who was visiting the campus from Dallas this
week with his daughter, a high school junior, said he was
disappointed but not surprised to learn about the bribes. He
said the case affirmed his long-held belief that the system was
rigged in favor of the rich and privileged.
â€śThe one thing that bothers me about the whole thing is itâ€™s
hard enough to get in regularly,â€ť he said. â€śMy guess is this is
the tip of the iceberg.â€ť
The center of the scandal swirled around the schoolâ€™s athletics department, which over the years has been the most visible way
the school presents itself to the world. As the bribery case
made clear, the system to recruit student athletes â€” who are
already sometimes held to lesser academic standards than other
students â€” can be subject to manipulation.
â€śThe fact that there is this entirely separate system for
athletesâ€™ admission and recruitment that frankly lends itself to corruption and abuse is really disturbing,â€ť said Ariela Gross, a
law professor at the university. â€śThereâ€™s the broader class
issue of wealthy people buying access or stacking the deck in
normal, legal ways.â€ť
At one time, there was no better symbol of the renaissance at
U.S.C. than the football team.
The Trojans, behind a charismatic coach, Pete Carroll, eagerly
filled the professional football void left in Los Angeles by the
departure of the Rams and the Raiders.
Mr. Carroll, who was hired in 2000, built a juggernaut, winning
45 of 46 games at one point with teams that were as entertaining
as they were dominating, routinely packing the cavernous Los
Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
As the building boom in and around campus took root, investment
continued in athletics, which, thanks to footballâ€™s
rejuvenation, had seen revenues double to $76 million over an
eight-year period. A long-awaited basketball arena, a state-of-
the-art tennis stadium and a glistening new administration
building were built, fortifying programs like water polo, tennis
and track and field, which continued to chase national
championships and produce a steady stream of Olympians.
But football was hit by its own recruitment scandal nearly a
The teamâ€™s stars back then were treated as such, receiving the
Snoop Dogg hovered near the end zone during games and ran pass
patterns at practice. Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Spike
Lee stood along the sidelines, regularly flanked by professional
But it came crumbling down in 2010 when the National Collegiate
Athletic Association, after a clumsy, contentious and lengthy
investigation into whether football and basketball players had
received illegal gifts from agents, hit the school with
The university moved swiftly to recover. Mr. Nikias succeeded
Steven B. Sample as president that same year and began building
the school into a fund-raising powerhouse. For the last several
years, it has been one of the top universities in annual fund-
raising, along with Harvard and Stanford, raising $6 billion in
a recent campaign.
Mr. Nikias used the N.C.A.A. sanctions as the impetus to clean
house â€” firing the athletic director, Mike Garrett, himself a
former Heisman Trophy winner. Mr. Nikias also beefed up the
rules compliance office, hiring a prominent Los Angeles lawyer,
and soon had a nine-person staff.
â€śWeâ€™re going to have a culture of compliance,â€ť Pat Haden, the replacement U.S.C. athletic director, told The New York Times at
the time. â€śWeâ€™re going to think about it in the morning, think
about it before we go to bed. Weâ€™re going to have issues but
weâ€™ll fess up and be better than the way before.â€ť
As part of the restructuring, one administrator was soon thrust
into a more prominent role â€” Ms. Heinel, a former college
Ms. Heinel now stands accused of collecting more than $1.3
million in payments directed from parents through Mr. Singer
between 2014 and 2018, and drawing $20,000 per month from Mr.
Singer since last July through a sham consultant agreement.
Ms. Heinel, who came to U.S.C. in 2003, was fired Tuesday along
with Jovan Vavic, the hugely successful water polo coach who was
charged in the current affidavit with accepting $250,000 from
Mr. Singer. Two former U.S.C. soccer coaches â€” Ali Khosroshahin
and his assistant, Laura Janke â€” have been charged with taking
$350,000 from Mr. Singer. So, too, has Bill Ferguson, the Wake
Forest womenâ€™s volleyball coach, who led the menâ€™s team at
U.S.C. for a decade before leaving in 2016. He is accused of
accepting $100,000 from Mr. Singer.
The recent scandals havenâ€™t appeared to dim the universityâ€™s
powerful lure for prospective students. This year, U.S.C.
received close to 66,000 applicants, its largest pool ever, with
the highest collective grade point averages and SAT scores ever
Yet in the aftermath of the latest news, many faculty and
students said they felt betrayed and angered.
â€śIâ€™m infuriated by what happened and what she did,â€ť said Tom
Walsh, a former U.S.C. track and cross-country coach, who left
in 2013 after 19 years at the school, referring to Ms. Heinel.
â€śI felt like our program, we got denied a few people that we
thought were going to get into our program, legit track and
field international stars. Now, you look back and wonder why
they didnâ€™t get in. Did they make space for these phony people?â€ť
Summer Dahlquist-Tookey, 18, a freshman, said that for her, the
indictments had only underscored the role money played in the
admissions process. â€śFrom the moment I stepped onto U.S.C.â€™s
campus, I noticed how wealthy most of the students were,â€ť she
said. â€śI have classmates who have the same last names as
buildings on campus. Once we hear that, we basically know how
they got in.â€ť
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