Harvard Taking Steps to Avoid Future Admissions Issues

Paul Steinbach Headshot

Harvard University has implemented two new policies this fall in response to admissions scandals on its campus and nationwide, according to The Harvard Crimson student newspaper.

Harvard coaches must now provide materials that admissions officers can later use to verify an applicant’s athletic ability. The Office of General Counsel is also starting regular conflict-of-interest training for athletics coaching staff.

Federal authorities in March uncovered a nationwide scheme in which parents bribed coaches at elite universities to designate their children as athletics recruits, vastly improving their chances of admission, despite the students having little or no experience in the sports they were supposedly being recruited to play. Though Harvard was not implicated in that scandal, the university suffered its own controversy in April when the Boston Globe reported that former head fencing coach Peter Brand had sold his home to the family of prospective students.

As reported by the Crimson, Harvard coaches have historically provided forms rating prospective student-athletes to Harvard’s admissions office, according to athletic director Robert Scalise. On these forms, coaches rank a prospective student’s athletic ability. They also often provide a character description based on information learned about prospective students during recruiting trips.

Now, the athletics department is asking coaches to put “something that we can verify” on the form for the admissions office to review, Scalise told the paper. Examples of possible materials coaches could include are newspaper articles and websites with national rankings.

The university’s general counsel has already begun conflict-of-interest trainings. The general counsel will train every new coach in their first year and every other year following the initial training, according to spokesperson Aaron M. Goldman.

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