Operation Varsity Blues: The Largest College Admissions Scam Ever Prosecuted in the U.S.

On Tuesday, March 12th, while Blair was enjoying spring break, famous celebrities Lori Loughlin, better known as Aunt Becky from Full House, and Felicity Huffman, known for her role in Desperate Housewives, were arrested for paying college admissions consultant Rick Singer to guarantee their children’s admission into elite colleges. Their arrests were part of a larger investigation referred to as Operation Varsity Blues, in which 50 people have so far been charged. This included two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, nine coaches, one college administrator, and 33 parents. Some of the colleges included in the scam are the University of Southern California, Yale, Stanford, UCLA, and Georgetown.

Does Lori Loughlin’s name sound familiar? How about her 19 year old daughter, YouTube sensation Olivia Jade?  Loughlin allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes to have her daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, gain admission to the University of Southern California, or USC, by being recruited for their crew team despite the two not participating in crew.

Loughlin’s husband and famous fashion designer, Mossimo Giannulli, whose eponymous line is sold at Target, was also involved in the scam.

When news broke about Loughlin’s arrest, Olivia Jade was on the yacht of the chairman of USC’s board of trustees, Rick Caruso. Caruso told TMZ that “once we became aware of the investigation, the young woman [Olivia] decided it would be in her best interests to return home.”

Olivia Jade, known for her popular YouTube channel with over 2 million subscribers, came under heat a few months before the scandal when she revealed to her fans that she was going to college. In a video she stated, “I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend, but I’m gonna go in and talk to my deans… I do want the experience of like game days, partying. I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.” Her comment received much backlash, with many calling her ungrateful. She apologized in a later video, however, some fans still didn’t believe she was serious about her education.

On her Instagram, Olivia has now disabled comments on her recent photos, but that didn’t stop people from expressing their opinions on earlier posts. One person asked, “Can you do a room tour of your mom’s jail cell next?” Another stated, “Row row row your boat right into USC, merrily merrily merrily merrily, get kicked out with no degree.” While the majority of comments expressed disapproval, some defended Olivia, saying “It’s not her fault her parents are rich and did these horrible things. Blame her parents, not her.”

Who do you think is more to blame? Out of 61 members of the Blair community who took the Oracle’s Instagram survey, 97% said that they believe her parents are more to blame.

Olivia Jade reported that she will not be returning to USC.

Because of the investigation, Loughlin was dropped by the series Fuller House and Hallmark has also severed ties with her.

Olivia Jade lost many brand deals and will no longer be working with Sephora, Amazon, TRESemmé, Lulus, and more. Whether or not her career is over is debatable. 51% of Blair survey respondents think it is.

They weren’t the only family involved. Famous actress Felicity Huffman, married to William H. Macy, allegedly gave Singer $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT scores.

The man behind it all, William Rick Singer, was the CEO of The Key, a college admissions prep company. The bribes from parents were disguised as charitable donations to the Key Worldwide Foundation, which US Attorney Andrew Lelling said was “a front Singer used to launder the money that parents paid him.”

Since the scandal began, Felicity Huffman was released on a $250,000 bond, while Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli were released on a $1 million bond each.

76% of the Blair members surveyed said that they think Loughlin and her husband will not recieve jail time. We’ll see what happens next for these reputation-ruined celebrities.

(Copyright 2019 June Dinias)

June Dinias

June Dinias ’20 is an editor and writer that has been on the Oracle since her Freshman year. She has explored writing about various topics, focusing on art, food, and culture. She also manages our instagram account. Outside of the Oracle, June is an AP photo student and a yearbook staff member.