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Six Coaches Plead Not Guilty in Admissions Scandal

Paul Steinbach

A dozen individuals, including six coaches, pleaded not guilty Monday in a Boston federal court to charges stemming from the bribery scandal that has rocked college admissions offices and athletic departments since the story broke March 12.

Among the coaches pleading not guilty Monday was Gordon Ernst, the former head tennis coach at Georgetown University, who has been accused of taking $2.7 million in bribes from scandal ringleader William "Rick" Singer to designate at least 12 applicants as recruits to the tennis team. According to The New York Times, prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of Ernst’s country club membership and a second home on Cape Cod, among other assets.

Also appearing on Monday were Donna Heinel, the former senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California; Laura Janke and Ali Khosroshahin, former USC soccer coaches; Jovan Vavic, the former USC water polo coach; Jorge Salcedo, the former head coach of men’s soccer at UCLA; and William Ferguson, the former women’s volleyball coach at Wake Forest.

All of the defendants are out on bail, of varying amounts, the Times reported.

Also on Monday, the federal Department of Education sent letters to the eight colleges where coaches are alleged to have taken bribes, saying that it was opening an investigation of its own, according to a department official with knowledge of the investigation cited by the Times.

Addressing a sizable media gathering outside the courthouse, Shaun Clarke, an attorney representing Ferguson, stated, "No one — no one — was admitted to Wake Forest who didn’t earn it, as a student and as an athlete. Bill Ferguson does not belong in this indictment."

Ferguson is accused of taking a $100,000 bribe in exchange for designating the daughter of one of Singer’s clients at Key Worldwide Foundation — a student who had previously applied to Wake Forest and been wait-listed — as a recruit for the volleyball team.

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