University of California Board of Regents policy expressly prohibits admissions “motivated by concern for financial, political or other such benefit to the University.” Immediately upon discovering a potential violation of this policy in 2014, UCLA Athletics alerted campus officials and the Director of UCLA’s Administrative Policies and Compliance Office conducted an investigation into the matter
The investigation examined two specific admissions actions that involved potential violations of UC and athletic department policies. During the review, the scope expanded to include a broader review of potential patterns of donations by the families of enrolled student-athletes.
The first action reviewed was the admission of a track & field student-athlete whose parents pledged to make a donation to the program. The student participated in track & field in high school, but only contributed to the UCLA team as a manager. The report concluded that two coaches were directly responsible for policy violations, but found no wrongdoing by the student or her family. She was allowed to remain enrolled and the family ultimately completed the terms of the pledge. Development staff member Taylor Swearingen’s involvement was determined to be only transactional, but exposed the need for improved policies and training.
The second admissions action reviewed involved the potential admission of a prospective student-athlete on the women’s water polo team. The student had been granted provisional admission, but that decision was reversed prior to a formal admission decision. During the investigation, Rick Singer was identified as a private educational consultant to the family. Singer was interviewed as part of the investigation and denied representing that admission could be gained in exchange for a financial contribution. Two coaches were determined to be directly responsible for policy violations.
The report’s third focus was on donations by the families of walk-ons in the tennis program and revealed no policy violations, but did make recommendations to improve internal policies.
In accordance with the balance of evidence that was available, and as a result of the investigation, disciplinary action was taken against employees deemed responsible in the report for violating policy.
Senior Associate Athletic Director Josh Rebholz was not interviewed as part of the investigation nor was he named in the report. Following the conclusion of the investigation, former Track & Field Director Mike Maynard provided Athletic Director Dan Guerrero with a written letter revising his previous statements to the investigator and alleging for the first time that Rebholz had approached him about admitting the daughter of major donors. The information was shared with the investigator, who spoke with Maynard multiple times before determining the new information did not warrant re-opening the investigation. The family in question had no previous University giving history. No disciplinary action was deemed necessary against Rebholz.
At the time the track & field violation was discovered, there was no restriction on when donations could be accepted from families of prospective student-athletes. UCLA Athletics recognized at that point the opportunity to strengthen its policies to prevent possible violations of UC policy. Immediately in the wake of the investigation and its findings, UCLA Athletics implemented a policy that a donation could not be accepted from families of prospects until the student-athlete is enrolled at UCLA. Athletic department staff was educated about the policy, and additional education of the coaching and development staffs also took place regarding the prohibition of any discussion of donations prior to admission.
Subsequently, additional policy changes included requiring athletic department officials to perform an athletic qualifications check for walk-ons. Similar checks for scholarship student-athletes were deemed unnecessary at the time, based on the belief that any scholarship recipient would far exceed requirements for athletic abilities. Additionally, a family University giving history check was implemented for walk-ons.
The entire matter was scrutinized by numerous University departments, including Human Resources, Legal Affairs and the campus Administrative Policies and Compliance Office, in addition to the Department of Athletics. UCLA took this matter seriously and strengthened its policies in the wake of it.
While no policy violation is acceptable, it is important to note that the recent charges against UCLA’s former men’s soccer head coach are alleged to have involved criminal activity and personal enrichment that were not a component of the 2014 investigation. As part of its months-long and ongoing cooperation with the Department of Justice, information regarding this investigation was shared voluntarily with the authorities.