By The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO—Two college students have filed a lawsuit against the University of Southern California, Yale University and other colleges where prosecutors have accused rich and famous parents like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman of paying bribes to ensure their children’s admission.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco and alleges the students were denied a fair opportunity for admission.
Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods claimed they were denied a fair opportunity to apply to Yale and USC. The lawsuit also named the University of California, Los Angeles, Wake Forest University, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin, Georgetown University and Stanford University.
The plaintiffs said the alleged scheme gave unqualified students admission to highly selective universities. Both plaintiffs are currently students at Stanford.
“Each of the universities took the students’ admission application fees while failing to take adequate steps to ensure that their admissions process was fair and free of fraud, bribery, cheating and dishonesty,” the plaintiffs said in the lawsuit.
Charges were announced earlier this week against 50 people, including coaches and dozens of parents, in a scheme where prosecutors have said wealthy parents paid to rig standardized test scores and bribed sports coaches to get their children into elite universities.
Federal indictments unsealed this week outlined a sweeping college admissions scandal in which coaches allegedly took bribes from wealthy parents to help falsify their children’s sports credentials and designate them as recruited athletes.
Whether it’s football, basketball or “non-revenue” sports like tennis or water polo, private and public colleges with even the most rigorous academic standards for admission lower the bar for student-athletes. They do it because they want to win championships at all levels.
“If you are going to pay for it and compete, why would you not want to win?” said Nellie Drew, a sports law expert at the University of Buffalo School of Law. “Stanford has more Olympic athletes than many countries. They are proud of that.”
The colleges named in Olsen and Woods’ lawsuit have cast themselves as victims of the scheme, and have moved to distance themselves from the coaches accused of involvement.
“We understand that the government believes that illegal activity was carried out by individuals who went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university,” USC officials said in a statement earlier this week.
Yale officials said earlier this week they were cooperating with the investigation.
“As the indictment makes clear, the Department of Justice believes that Yale has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by its former women’s soccer coach,” Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said.