College Admissions Scandal Impacts Hometown Athletes

Amanda Young, Business Editor

While the college admissions bribery scandal has prompted nation-wide discussion, it has affected seniors Christina Crum, Marcus Longton, and Daniela Moroz far more directly.

Crum and Longton committed to play water polo at the University of Southern California (USC) under coach Jovan Vavic, the same coach who, on March 12, was arrested for allegedly recommending 2 students as water polo recruits after accepting $250,000 in bribes, according to The New York Times.

Crum said that she didn’t know anything about the offense until somebody sent her an article during class. “I’m definitely pretty upset because I personally think he’s the best coach in all of water polo,” she said.

Vavic won a total 16 National Championships in men’s and women’s water polo and was named the Pac-12 Men’s Water Polo Coach of the Century in 2015. “I really wanted to be coached by him. I’m just sad the way that it turned out,” said Crum.

College advisor Joan Batcheller said, “It’s shocking that it would be [the USC coach] because they have 1 of the best water polo programs in our state.”

“Their program is still going to be successful because of the people they do have. I don’t think it’s really going to hurt them in the long run,” Batcheller added.

According to Crum, the USC assistant coach will now become the head coach.  It was the assistant coach who recruited her.

Batcheller noted that the scandal is a sad commentary on the college process. “College admissions are so hard today, so people are desperate,” she said.

Batcheller recommended the book Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be by Frank Bruni, which stresses the idea that the name of your college does not define who you will be as a person, to worried seniors.

Moroz, a 3-time world-champion kite sailor and 2024 Olympic hopeful, was also affected by the scandal. She hoped to attend Stanford University under former sailing coach John Vandemoer, who pleaded guilty on 1 count of conspiracy to commit racketeering. Vandemoer was indicted because he accepted $270,000 to admit 2 applicants under the guise of their commitment to Stanford sailing. He reportedly used the money to fund the sailing program.

According to Moroz, Vandemoer had expressed interest in recruiting her for the team. “He said, ‘I have a way for helping you through admissions,'” said Moroz. “Those were his exact words in his email, so I applied Early Action. To me, it seemed like he was just going to tag me as an athlete.”

However, Moroz was rejected from Stanford University in December. Though she said she was initially “very disappointed,” she realized, “It happened for a reason. I’m just going to accept it; it wasn’t meant to be.”

Moroz went on a recruiting trip to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. A week after she committed to the school, she received a text message from a friend with a link to an article about Vandemoer’s involvement in the scandal.

“When I 1st found out about it, I almost wasn’t surprised just because when other people had found out that I didn’t get into Stanford, they were like, ‘Oh my God, that’s crazy. They’d be crazy not to take you,'” said Moroz. “[But,] I don’t at all want to say that that’s the reason I didn’t get into Stanford because honestly, I’m sure there was another sailor.”

The fact that “someone who was a fraud got accepted for sailing, who had minimal sailing experience, and in order for that person to get accepted, someone else had to be rejected,” is what Moroz finds most disturbing.

She added that she is happy with her decision to commit to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “This happening and the FBI actually coming out with this is actually a really good thing because now people are aware that this is happening and hopefully it’ll just be positive for the future and for the next few generations of students,” she said.