The United States Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether or not the ethics code of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) — referred to as NACAC’s “Statement of Principles of Good Practice” — stands in violation of federal antitrust laws. A new version of NACAC’s “Statement of Principles of Good Practice” was drafted last year. While it’s not currently known which component of NACAC’s ethics code has attracted the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice, mounting speculation points to restrictions placed by NACAC, an organization to which Ivy Coach is a member, on its member colleges in their ability to persuade accepted applicants to matriculate.
Department of Justice Probes NACAC
As Scott Jaschik writes in an excellent piece for “Inside Higher Ed” entitled “Department of Justice Probes Admissions Ethics Code,” “The policy states that colleges should not use the lure of good housing assignments to force students to respond instantly to admissions offers. Some of those policies, however, do limit college actions — and admissions experts fear that may be what the department is going after.” Essentially, the argument is that NACAC is restricting the ability of colleges to lure students to attend — thus restraining their trade which would be a violation of law.
Department of Justice Should Probe the IECA
Now regular readers of our college admissions blog may remember when we shined a spotlight on the ethics code of a much less prestigious organization for violating federal antitrust laws as we see it. As an analogy, if the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) is the Golden State Warriors of the NBA, well then the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) is a middle school junior varsity team that struggles with layups. We have insisted for years that membership in the IECA isn’t worth the paper it’s written on but if you wish to brush up on our rationale for blasting this organization, read Part I, Part II, and Part III of our three part exposé.
If you have neither the time nor interest in reading about this organization we believe to be unscrupulous, we’ll give you a brief synopsis. For years, we have made it known that we believe the IECA blatantly violates federal antitrust laws (see The Two Face of IECA). Allow us to share our story. You see, when the IECA was desperate for membership, they reached out to us at Ivy Coach since, well, we’re the most prominent independent college consulting firm in the world. But our true statistic at the bottom of every page of our website about the success of our students in the admissions process is a violation of the IECA’s “Principles of Good Practice.” So what did they do? The organization, under the leadership of its CEO Mark Sklarow, made an exception and grandfathered us in. But of course.
It wasn’t the only time Mark Sklarow violated the very principles of the organization he is charged with governing. He has been caught publicly criticizing our firm (while taking our membership dues while we were members — the chutzpah!), which happens to be a clear violation of IECA’s “Principles of Good Practice.” He also accepts the membership dues of a college counselor who has been caught blatantly plagiarizing Ivy Coach’s material. That college counselor, who is currently facing litigation brought by Ivy Coach for copyright infringement (a warning to all!), is someone the IECA wants working with students on their admissions essays? Oy vey is right.
Shame, shame, shame on Mark Sklarow and the Independent Educational Consultants Association!
But it gets better — we’ve been saving the piece where the IECA, we believe, violates federal antitrust laws for last. When the IECA learned about Ivy Coach’s fees, they reached out to us asking if we really do charge what we charge. When we asserted that indeed the fees they cited were our fees at the time, they threatened to kick us out of their organization — even sending threatening letters asserting as much. If you know us, you know that we told them they had no right to tell us what we could and couldn’t charge. In fact, doing so was un-American and a violation of federal antitrust law, a laughable attempt to restrain our trade.
Today, we echo our call for the resignation of the CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association,
Joseph McCarthy Mark Sklarow. And we echo our call for this organization to be held accountable for what we believe are their outrageous and unpatriotic attempts to restrain the trade of proud American businesses.