American tennis coach receives prison sentence in $3.5 million university admissions scandal

A top American tennis coach has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for his role in a scandal which saw wealthy families pay bribes for their children to be accepted into university.

Gordon Ernst was head tennis coach at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. until officials uncovered the scandal and he was placed on leave in December 2017 before losing his job. 

Over a ten-year span, Ernst accepted bribes totalling $3.5 million (€3.4 million) to ensure the children of well-off parents were admitted into Georgetown.

He was sentenced to the 32-month jail term in a Boston courtroom on Friday, July 1, by U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani.

In addition to the prison time, the disgraced coach was also ordered to repay $3.43 million (€3.3 million) and must also serve six months of house confinement at the end of his prison sentence.

Ernst was pled guilty in October to his role in taking money in exchange for completing paperwork to designate 22 students as tennis recruits at Georgetown.

Georgetown’s sports teams compete in Division 1 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Students who are not on athletic or academic scholarships pay over $50,000 (€48,000) annually in tuition to the private research university.

The sting that saw Ernst arrested, charged, and imprisoned was part of the ‘Operation Varsity Blues’ investigation.

Operation Varsity Blues uncovered details of how rich families used their wealth to ensure their children secured admission to prestigious American universities, including Yale, Stanford and the University of Southern California.

Ernst was sent to prison during the height of the global tennis calendar with the Wimbledon championships taking place in London.

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Written by

Tom Hurley


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