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Was a Coach Bribed to Get Applicant Into Penn?

July 22, 2018

A federal indictment of a Florida businessman says that, among other things, he bribed the then head coach of the University of Pennsylvania basketball team to help the businessman's son be admitted to the university, Bloomberg reported. The son was subsequently admitted to Penn and is a rising senior there. While the son played basketball in high school, he has not played at Penn. The bribe was reportedly for the coach to designate the student as a recruited athlete, which would greatly improve an applicant's chances of being admitted to Penn.

The coach is Jerome Allen, who led the Penn program for six years and is now assistant coach of the Boston Celtics. The businessman is Philip Esformes. The indictment says that he gave Allen $74,000 in the form of cash, a recruiting trip to Miami and rides on a private jet. Esformes faces a series of charges, some previously filed, related to health-care fraud, money laundering and other alleged cases of bribery. Penn, Allen and the Celtics did not respond to requests for comment.

Esformes has denied wrongdoing. His lawyer told Bloomberg that no bribes led to Penn's admission of Morris Esformes, the son. And he noted that Morris has been successful academically at Penn. But the lawyer acknowledged that the senior Esformes had made payments to Allen. “His father hired the coach when Mo was a high school sophomore to help Mo improve his game, as many parents do when their kids show athletic promise,” the lawyer said.

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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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