William Singer pitched me on college admissions scam: parent
A parent who turned down an offer by college admissions scandal mastermind William “Rick” Singer to pass his son off as a football player to weasel his way into the University of Southern California said the proposal left him feeling “dirty.”
The dad, a Silicon Valley investor, peeled back the curtain on Singer’s pitch to help the teen get into the school through a “side door” in an interview with Axios.
“When you have kids in their junior year of high school, all the parents start talking about college counselors and who they’re using,” said the investor, who said he has not been approached by law enforcement and spoke on condition of anonymity. “Someone had mentioned Singer to me and given me his cellphone number, so I called him up.”
The parent said Singer’s college prep started innocently enough, with him coming to their house four or five times to help their son get his applications in order and practice admissions tests.
“But then it got weird,” he told Axios. “He sort of said, ‘I think I can get your kid into USC, but he’s going to be a football player.’”
“Now my kid only played freshman [high school] football and wasn’t sure he wanted to go to USC, but Singer tells me there would be a spot and he doesn’t actually have to play football,” the dad recalled. “He makes it all sound so reasonable, except that he also says he’ll need a picture and asks if I have one from freshman football.”
The parent said that even though he didn’t express much interest in the offer, Singer kept trying to push it on him.
“He uses the word ‘side door,’” he told Axios. “Something like, ‘Your kid can’t really get in here, but I’ve got a way to get him in the side door.’”
The dad said he and Singer never talked about what such an arrangement would cost because “the idea of doctoring up an application was not my sort of thing.”
“He kept pushing it, but I finally just said to give some other child the opportunity,” he recalled. “One thing you need to know about Singer is that he’s ornery, prickly. … But you’re trying to use him to help your kids, so you end up being extra nice because you don’t want him to be mad.”
Singer pleaded guilty Tuesday, the same day he was among 50 people — including parents, college sports coaches and on-the-take proctors — charged in the sweeping federal case.
Though the parent who came forward didn’t take Singer up on his offer, he said he feels uncomfortable for even hearing it out.
“I feel dirty,” he told Axios. “And I didn’t even do anything wrong.”