Georgetown’s Former Tennis Coach Gets 2-1/2 Years in Prison in College Admissions Scandal

Georgetown University’s former head tennis coach Gordon Ernst arrives at the federal courthouse for a sentencing hearing for his role in the vast U.S. college admissions fraud scheme called “Varsity Blues,” in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., July 1, 2022. REUTERS/Faith Ninivaggi

A former Georgetown University tennis coach was sentenced on Friday to 2-1/2 years in prison for helping children of wealthy parents get into the school in exchange for nearly $3.5 million in bribes as part of a vast college admissions fraud scheme.

Gordon Ernst, Georgetown’s former head tennis coach, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani in Boston after pleading guilty in October to conspiracy and bribery charges arising from the U.S. college admissions scandal.

It was the longest sentence to result to date from the “Operation Varsity Blues” investigation, which exposed how wealthy families went to extremes to secure spots for their children at competitive schools including Stanford, Yale and the University of Southern California.

Ernst must also serve an additional six months of home confinement upon release and forfeit $3.43 million. His lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors allege that dozens of wealthy parents conspired with California college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to rig college entrance exams and secure the admission of students as fake athletic recruits through bribery.

Fifty-four people have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial since 2019, including Singer and actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.

Prosecutors said Ernst over a decade accepted more bribes than any other coach in the case in exchange for designating 22 students as tennis recruits at Georgetown in Washington, D.C., including 19 children of Singer’s clients.

Those paying bribes included Douglas Hodge, the former chief executive of bond manager Pimco, who was sentenced to nine months in prison in 2020.

A jury last month acquitted another parent accused of bribing Ernst, Amin Khoury, the sole trial loss for prosecutors. read more

In a letter to Talwani ahead of Friday’s hearing, Ernst, 55, expressed his “deep regret” for his “selfish actions.” His lawyers argued he deserved just one year in prison while prosecutors pushed for four.

SOURCE: Reuters – Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by David Gregorio