WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJZ) — A former athletic coach from Georgetown University is among those who allegedly took bribes to help parents get their children into the DC-based university as a part of a nationwide college admissions scheme.
Gordon “Gordie” Ernst, who is currently the tennis coach at The University of Rhode Island, was among those charged in the scam.
Ernst was released on a $200,000 bond later Tuesday afternoon.
He has to surrender his passport and his travel is restricted to Maryland. Detectives said he accepted $2.7 million in bribes.
Ernst, who lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland, was charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. Ernst was the head coach for Georgetown’s men’s and women’s tennis teams until December 2017. He resigned on June 30, 2018. He was named the head coach in 2006.
“Georgetown University is deeply disappointed to learn that former Tennis Coach Gordon Ernst is alleged to have committed criminal acts against the University that constitute an unprecedented breach of trust,” said Meghan Dubyak, Georgetown University spokesperson. “Ernst has not coached our tennis team since December 2017, following an internal investigation that found he had violated University rules concerning admissions. Georgetown cooperated fully with the government’s investigation. We are reviewing the details of the indictment and will take appropriate action.”
The University released an update on the scandal later Tuesday.
Ernst earned a spot in the USTA New England Tennis Hall of Fame in 2015.
The United States Attorney’s office in Boston announced charges against dozens of people accused in a nationwide college admissions scheme, including Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, of “Full House” fame.
“Their actions were without a doubt, insidious, selfish and shameful,” said FBI agent in charge Joseph Bonavolonta.
WBZ in Boston reports the scheme began in 2011. Defendants with high school-aged children who were applying to college allegedly “conspired with others to use bribery and other forms of fraud to facilitate their children’s admission to colleges and universities” in Massachusetts and elsewhere including Yale, Stanford, University of Texas, University of Southern California and UCLA. Georgetown, Wake Forest are also on the list.
The indictment names several college staff members, as well as SAT and ACT test administrators.
The scam revolves around William “Rick” Singer.
Singer, 58, will plead guilty to a variety of charges for organizing the scheme, which investigators dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.”
Between 2011 and 2018, wealthy parents paid Singer about $25 million total to guarentee their kids admission to the elite schools listed above.
The scam worked in two ways, through test scores and athletics. Investigators said parents would pay Singer to have someone take a standardize admissions test for their children.
Singer is also accused of contacting college coaches to help students gain admission as recruited athletes, regardless of their abilities.
“For every student admitted through fraud, an honest, genuinely talented student was not,” Bonavolonta said.
The indictment names nine coaches, including Ernst.
No students have bene charged and authorities said many of them didn’t know about their parents’ activities.
Investigators also said a majority of family members paid between $200,000 to $400,000, one family paid at least $6.5 million.
Ernst is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.