In the wake of a nationwide college-admissions bribery scheme that implicated its head sailing coach and a current student, Stanford University plans to more closely scrutinize its admissions, gifts and athletic-recruitment processes.
Stanford announced on Thursday that it will launch a "comprehensive external review" of its process for admissions recommendations from the athletics department as well as how gifts to athletic programs are accepted.
A total of $770,000 was contributed by a fraudulent foundation to the sailing program in the form of three separate gifts, according to the university. Sailing coach John Vandemoer, whom Stanford quickly terminated last week after a federal indictment was announced, has pleaded guilty to a charge of information with racketeering conspiracy.
Responding to allegations that parents fabricated applicants' athletic achievements to gain admission, Stanford Athletics has already created a new protocol to have more oversight over recruits recommended by coaches: a member of the executive leadership of the athletics department responsible for each of Stanford's 36 varsity men's and women's sports will review and confirm the athletic credentials of all recruits.
"This will provide a second, higher-level verification of the athletic credentials of recruited student-athletes before that information is shared with the admission office, to be considered as one factor in a comprehensive review of each student's qualifications for Stanford admission," President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell wrote in a blog post.
The university will also review the applications of all student-recruits who applied for admission for this fall. The university has not found evidence to date of any person in this year's applicant pool who falsified their athletic credentials, Tessier-Lavigne and Drell said.
Stanford has confirmed all students on the sailing team who received an athletic recommendation, dating back to 2011, had legitimate sailing experience before applying.
No students in this year's applicant pool are associated with a donation from The Key Worldwide Foundation, the fraudulent nonprofit through which college adviser William "Rick" Singer channeled bribes to athletic coaches and administrators. The university received no other contributions than were reported in a federal indictment.
There is a current Stanford student, however, who is connected to a contribution The Key foundation made several months after he or she was admitted, the university has said. The student did not have a recommendation from the former sailing coach or any other coach and has not at any time been on the Stanford sailing team or any other athletics team.
"We are continuing to work to verify the circumstances around this student and will take whatever actions are appropriate," the president and provost wrote, noting that "as has long been our practice, we rescind a student's admission to Stanford if we determine the student submitted false information."
Stanford is also figuring out what to do with the funds given to the sailing program and is in touch with the California Attorney General's office, which has responsibility for overseeing foundations, for assistance, Tessier-Lavigne and Drell said.
Due to an unrelated criminal case involving a Stanford admission officer who was arrested earlier this month for alleged attempted murder, domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon, the university is also reviewing applications that were assigned to him "to ensure his assessments were sound," they said.
Tessier-Lavigne and Drell acknowledged that the scandal has "jarred the trust of many Americans in the college admissions process, and it has prompted many questions from the Stanford community.
"We are determined to take the right steps at Stanford to ensure the integrity of our process and to work toward rebuilding that trust," they wrote.
More on the national admissions bribery scam:
• Listen to the March 15 episode of "Behind the Headlines," where Palo Alto college adviser John Raftrey discusses the implications of the nationwide admissions bribery scandal, now available on our YouTube channel and podcast.