Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal

Emma Shaughnessy '20, Features Editor

In March 2019, dozens of celebrities were exposed for their involvement in the largest college admissions scandal known to date, a conspiracy nicknamed “Operation Varsity Blues” by the FBI agents investigating the case. Among that group includes Full House star Lori Loughlin and actress Felicity Huffman. The scandal involved paying bribes to Rick Singer, the California “businessman” who orchestrated the scandal by falsey recruiting athletes and altering standardized test scores. Many elite schools were wrapped up in the scandal, including Stanford and Yale.

Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giuliani, allegedly paid $500,000 to have their daughters, Olivia and Bella Giuliani, recruited to the University of Southern California for crew, even though they did not have rowing experience. Giuliani was arrested the day the conspiracy was exposed, but was then released on a $1 million bond. Loughlin was in Vancouver at the time the news broke, but authorities arrested her when she returned. When the scandal broke, YouTube star Olivia Jade was on the yacht of Rick Caruso, the Chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees. Also, her past YouTube videos resurfaced of her saying she did not enjoy school and only wanted the experience of “game days and partying.” Both Olivia and her sister stated they would not return to USC, however, the school did not allow them to immediately drop out.

Huffman paid $15,000 to give her daughter extra time to take the SAT and for the proctor to secretly change her incorrect answers after. When the scandal broke, Huffman was arrested at her home in Hollywood by seven armed FBI members. She was later released on a $250,000 bond.

In April 2019, Loughlin, Giuliani, Huffman, and 8 other parents appeared for a court hearing in Boston. When they arrived, Lori signed autographs and posed for photos. Loughlin was charged with fraud and money laundering but pleaded not guilty. She claims she did not know her actions were illegal, and commented that any parents with the means would have done the same. Huffman, on the other hand, accepts full responsibility for her actions and pleaded guilty. Neither parents have admitted or denied their children’s involvement in the scandals, and they are hoping they will not be charged. As of April 26, the trial was still in progress. Spectators predict that Loughlin and her husband could be sentenced to jail for up to 21 years, and Huffman could receive about 10 months.

Student at Oakland Catholic were extremely disappointed by this scandal. Junior Maggie Smith remarked, “I think it’s really unfair to the students who worked hard to get into colleges, but had that opportunity taken from them.” Colleges have been investigating other students who may potentially be involved in similar situations and are doing their best to prevent this in the future.


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