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Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty in Varsity Blues Scandal

October 2, 2021


Lifetime

Former Georgetown University tennis coach, Gordon Ernst, pleaded guilty on Sept. 15 to accusations of soliciting and accepting bribes to designate at least 12 students as recruits into the Georgetown tennis team between 2012 and 2018. 

Ernst’s charges include mail and wire fraud, committing federal programs bribery, aiding and abetting in mail and wire fraud and money laundering, and filing a false tax return. Ernst faces at least one year in prison, two years of supervised release, and the forfeiture of $3.435 million in proceeds obtained from the corrupt operation. 

Ernst, according to federal prosecutors, was involved in William Singer’salso known through the Varsity Blues scandal as “Rick”counseling operation that advised the wealthy on college admissions. Singer, through his organizations like Career Network, aided students in cheating on standardized testing and bribing college athletic recruiters. 

A 2019 FBI report first revealed the scandal involving wealthy parents paying large sums of money to secure spots on the athletic teams of elite colleges. Since then, 57 people have been charged due to their involvement in Singer’s scheme, and at least 44 have pleaded guilty, including 33 parents. Elisabeth Kimmel, the tenth Georgetown parent charged in connection with Operation Varsity Blues and the most recent to plead guilty, was accused of facilitating admission for her daughter through Ernst, reserving her daughter a spot on the tennis team she never played on. 

According to the New York Times, the university discovered irregularities in the player credentials of two Georgetown recruits (who were not admitted), and launched an investigation of Ernst in 2017. He was asked to resign that same year. Ernst, who had served as the tennis coach since 2006, left Georgetown in 2018, and worked briefly for the University of Rhode Island before his arrest in March 2019. His plea hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.



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