Varsity Blues Prompts Admissions Review at Wisconsin

Andy Berg Headshot

While the University of Wisconsin was not one of the schools wrapped up in the Varsity Blues admissions scandal, the school is nevertheless making some changes to its own policies.

Following an internal review, the UW’s deputy athletics director said the department has made several changes to its controls process that will require coaches attest to an individual’s athletic ability and increase communication between the department and admissions staff.

The changes come after an FBI investigation discovered a number of elite schools were taking bribes from wealthy businessmen, high-powered attorneys and well-known celebrities to get their children spots on sports teams or better standardized test scores.

Steve Hahn, UW-Madison’s vice provost of enrollment management, and Christopher McIntosh, deputy athletic director, discussed their review earlier this week with the audit committee for the University of Wisconsin System’s governing board at UW-Milwaukee.

The pair found that UW has the right procedures in place to avoid the type of situations that institutions caught up in the Varsity Blues scandal found themselves in.

Coaches will now have to sign off on the accuracy of the information he or she provides regarding a candidate’s athletic abilities

There are some cases in which athletes may not have participated that season, but remain on the roster, McIntosh acknowledged.

“But there’s all kinds of logical and understandable reasons for that,” he told the Chippewa Herald. “In the event there aren’t, (the list) will give us something to dig into.”

Varsity Blues highlighted the lengths that wealthy and privileged parents will go to in order to assure their child is accepted at an elite institution

“The national story talked a lot about these side doors for athletes and other populations,” Hahn said. “At UW-Madison, admissions is the front door to this university and the only door.”

UW-Madison has no minimum test score cutoff or formula to determine an applicant’s acceptance, he said. Each application — and UW-Madison received nearly 43,000 last year for the Class of 2022 — is read by at least two admissions staff members, each of whom are trained to report any “oddities or concerns” to an admissions director.

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