The U.S. Department of Education launched an investigation into eight universities, including Georgetown, for potential misconduct relating to the admissions bribery scheme Monday.
The investigation comes two weeks after former university tennis coach Gordon Ernst was indicted by federal prosecutors for falsely designating applicants as recruits to the Georgetown tennis team. Ernst, who pleaded not guilty to the bribery charges Monday, was one of 50 individuals named in the March 12 indictment. None of the eight universities involved were charged.
The Ed Department informed Georgetown and the seven other universities involved in the scandal that the Ed Department would examine whether the universities violated laws concerning the department’s financial aid programs or any other education regulations, according to Politico, which first reported the investigation.
If universities have credible information about employees or applicants who engage in admissions fraud, they are obligated to notify the Department of Education, according to the Ed Department.
The university will cooperate with investigators and is dedicated to a equitable admission process, according to university spokesperson Matt Hill.
“Georgetown University takes seriously its responsibility to comply with federal law and will cooperate with the United States Department of Education’s investigation,” Hill wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We are committed to an admissions process that includes a fair, holistic review of each application.”
The Ed Department has the authority to impose sanctions on an educational institution that misrepresents the programs it offers, according to the letter. The letter sent to Georgetown asked for details about how the college presented its admissions policy to consumers and any reviews that the university has done of admissions decisions for recruited athletes.
The Ed Department also requested the university identify all students who were mentioned in the Department of Justice indictment and show the department the admission files, transcripts and any financial aid packages that the students involved had received. The Ed Department was not available for comment as of press time.
There is no indication that Georgetown officials other than Ernst were involved in the admissions bribes, Vice President and General Counsel Lisa Brown and Vice President and Senior Advisor to the President Erik Smulson wrote in a March 12 email to the campus community. The university has taken new initiatives to reduce fraud for candidates applying as student athletes, such as audits to determine whether recruited athletes appear on rosters.
In addition to Ernst, the March 12 indictment named Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez, Douglas Hodge, Elisabeth Kimmel and Stephen Semprevivo, all of whom have or had children at Georgetown University between 2013 and 2019. The parents allegedly paid a test proctor to supervise the SAT for their children and falsified athletic records and admissions essays, according to the charges.
Yale University, one of the eight universities under investigation, confirmed the Ed Department’s investigation in a March 26 news release.
“We are reviewing the department’s requests and will respond appropriately,” Yale University President Peter Salovey wrote.
Georgetown also currently faces a class action lawsuit in relation to the admissions bribery scheme, filed March 15 by two college students and two parents. The unfair admissions process at the schools involved in the alleged scheme economically and emotionally harmed the students who were rejected from the schools, according to the lawsuit.
Hoya staff writer Jaime Moore-Carillo contributed reporting.