The Ivy Coach Daily

October 13, 2021

Another USC Admissions Scandal

The University of Southern California is home to yet another admissions scandal.

The scandals in the University of Southern California office of admissions just keep on coming. While it may seem like ages ago since it pre-dated the pandemic, it was just a couple of years ago when USC’s admissions office and athletic department found itself at the epicenter of the Varsity Blues scandal. You know. The one in which the school offered admission to students with fake athletic profiles and/or test scores? The one in which certain athletic coaches were bribed to reserve slots in their recruiting classes for applicants who were not deserving of such slots? While other universities like Stanford University and Yale University also admitted students with fake athletic profiles and/or test scores, there was no school that was more impacted by the scandal than USC. It thus seems like Groundhog Day today as we report yet another USC admissions scandal — this one involving a Los Angeles city councilman and the former head of USC’s School of Social Work.

As Christine Mai-Duc reports for The Los Angeles Times in a piece entitled “Los Angeles Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Former USC Dean Indicted,” “A Los Angeles city councilman and a former University of Southern California dean have been indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from an alleged scheme to trade county contracts for graduate-school admission for the politician’s son. Mark Ridley-Thomas, previously a Los Angeles county supervisor, is accused of conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, former dean of USC’s School of Social Work, to award the school contracts for county services believed to be worth millions of dollars. In return, Ms. Flynn allegedly arranged in late 2017 and early 2018 for the school to admit Mr. Ridley-Thomas’s son, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, to the social work school’s master’s program on full scholarship and offered him a paid position as a professor. Ms. Flynn allegedly later agreed to use the school to funnel campaign funds from Mr. Ridley-Thomas to benefit a nonprofit that his son headed. Mr. Ridley-Thomas’s donation was the subject of a Los Angeles Times investigation in 2018.”

It seems like no coincidence to us that so many of these admissions scandals take place at USC. Perhaps it’s high time for USC’s Board of Trustees to appoint an independent agency to oversee admissions decision-making at both the undergraduate and graduate levels because it seems the folks currently in charge of such decision-making don’t always take the high road. Might we suggest a company like McKinsey or Bain come in and look over the shoulders of the USC gatekeepers this very admissions cycle? Because it sure seems like something is rotting from within. And, no, USC. Don’t you try to blame this one on Reggie Bush.

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