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After Bribery Scandal, UT Austin's Admissions Practices Being Investigated By Feds

Martin do Nascimento

The University of Texas at Austin is among eight schools now being investigated in connection with a nationwide admissions bribery scandal.

University officials were sent a letter from the U.S. Department of Education advising that UT’s admissions practices were the subject of a “preliminary investigation” into whether any federal financial aid regulations were violated.

Earlier this month, federal prosecutors in Boston detailed a wide-ranging scheme to rig student test scores and bribe athletic officials at top-tier colleges and universities to guarantee admission for some wealthy applicants. More than 50 people were charged.

Former UT men’s tennis coach Michael Center, who was fired after he was charged in the scheme, allegedly took nearly $100,000 in return for arranging a scholarship for an applicant who did not play tennis competitively. 

Center is due in federal court in Boston later this week for a hearing on fraud and conspiracy charges.

In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, UT confirmed it had received a letter informing it of the investigation and said it was working with the federal government to "respond to their questions regarding admissions while we conduct our own internal review.”

The university has said that Center’s alleged actions “do not reflect our admissions process.”

After the scheme was uncovered, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all public universities in Texas to re-evaluate their admissions processes.

"I expect all universities to look into this and make sure they have procedures and policies so that this type of action will never be able to happen again," he said.

UT is also among the schools being sued by a pair of California students who allege they "were negligent in failing to maintain adequate protocols and security measures in place to guarantee the sanctity of the college admissions process, and to ensure that their own employees were not engaged in these type of bribery schemes."

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Matt has been a reporter at KUT off and on since 2006. He came to Austin from Boston, then went back for a while--but couldn't stand to be away--so he came back to Austin. Matt grew up in Maine (but hates lobster), and while it might sound hard to believe, he thinks Maine and Texas are remarkably similar.