University of Texas Tennis Scandal

UT Tennis Coach Michael Center allegedly accepted approximately $100,000 from a witness as a bribe, in exchange for Center to designate a student as a recruit to the UT tennis team.

AUSTIN, Texas — Famous actors, actresses, college coaches and more have been charged in a sweeping college admissions bribery scandal, including a University of Texas tennis coach.

Michael Center was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services, according to court documents.

Center is the head coach of the men’s tennis team at the University of Texas at Austin.

According to court documents, a witness told investigators that in 2015, Center agreed to accept approximately $100,000 from the witness as a bribe, in exchange for Center to designate a student as a recruit to the UT tennis team, thereby facilitating his admission to UT. 

The documents said the student was a California resident who did not play competitive tennis.

Center was hired by the University of Texas on July 25, 2000, and has been a coach at the university for the past 18 seasons.

William Singer, who runs a college counseling service, was named as the central figure in the conspiracy that includes 50 people, according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. 

The scam involved cheating on college entrance exams including the SAT and ACT, then securing admissions for prospective students for bribery coaches to admitting them into athletic programs, regardless of athletic ability.

Lelling said in a press conference on Tuesday that clients paid anywhere from $100,000 to $6.5 million.

Lelling went on to say the schools are not targets of the investigations and they have not been seen as co-conspirators after the year-long investigation.

Other notable names on the list are actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

Center is now on administrative leave.

The University of Texas gave the following response to KVUE: 

“Federal authorities notified us this morning that we were victims of an organized criminal effort involving admissions. We have just become aware of charges against our Men’s Tennis Coach Michael Center and he will be placed on administrative leave until further notice while we gather information. We are cooperating fully with the investigation. Integrity in admissions is vital to the academic and ethical standards of our university.”

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