2 Notable Sentences in Admissions Scandal

A coach and a parent receive jail terms.

March 2, 2020
Michelle Janavs leaves the federal courthouse.
(Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images)

A former coach and a parent were sentenced last week after they admitted guilt in the admissions scandal.

Michael Center, former head coach of the men's tennis team at the University of Texas at Austin, was the first coach to receive jail time in the scandal. He was sentenced to six months in prison and one year of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $60,000.

Beginning in 2014, Center agreed with Rick Singer, the mastermind of the scandal, and Martin Fox, the former president of a private tennis academy in Texas, to accept a $100,000 bribe in exchange for designating the child of one of Singer’s clients as a recruited athlete at UT Austin. In November 2014, Singer emailed the student’s high school transcript and application essays to Fox, who forwarded them to Center. Center emailed the materials to the administrator in the Texas athletics department so that the student, who did not actually play tennis competitively, would be coded as an athlete.

In March 2015, Center informed the student’s father that Texas would be sending the student a letter of intent for a “books” scholarship, which provides funding for a student’s textbooks, as part of the athletic recruitment process. In April 2015, the student returned a signed letter of intent to play tennis for Texas and, at Center’s instruction, was added to the team roster and then admitted to Texas. The student’s father made three separate donations of stock totaling $631,564 to Singer’s sham charitable organization, the Key Worldwide Foundation. Singer paid Center $60,000 in cash and $40,000 to the Texas tennis program.

Michelle Janavs, an heiress to the Hot Pockets fortune, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton to five months in prison and two years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine.

Janavs paid $300,000 to fix her daughters’ ACT exams and agreeing to have one of her daughters get into the University of Southern California as a fake beach volleyball player.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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