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Admissions Scandals Require Action to Protect Integrity

Admissions scandals that involve fraud by athletic coaches, officials at college entrance examination companies, and many others are trending in the news. While the media has given much attention to the motives and unlawful practices used by the rich and famous for getting their children into prestigious colleges, this scandal has brought to light some flaws that exist in the admission process. While it seems that no admissions officers have been accused of wrongdoing, there is an accusation by the media that the admissions process has helped shape the culture that created this scandal. This news illuminates the need for institutions with selective admissions and/or significant athletic programs to conduct due diligence. That may entail a holistic review to provide assurance of the integrity of your institution’s selection process.

The following steps are recommended:

  1. Conduct an independent review of existing programs to detect, if any, preexisting issues including review of "red flag" students and athletes who appear to have anomalies in admission and/or selection files, and/or subsequent performance at an institution when compared to predictors at time of admission/selection 
  2. Interface with legal authorities regarding existing and potential investigations
  3. Develop public and internal statements, protocols and policies regarding improper admission / selection practices; and develop preventative practices
  4. Develop protocols on how to proceed with employees, students or stakeholders involved in improper behavior, if any, and provide advice on how to advance and protect brand and business interests against those who have acted to, or attempted to undermine business interests of institutions including, but not limited to, cease and desist work and potential claims of interference with business and contractual relations — advice on how to approach potential state and federal regulatory efforts designed to protect transparency and fairness in admissions and selection processes — advice on issues related to NCAA compliance, if any.
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About this Author

Senior Attorney

Peter Lake is a nationally recognized expert on a variety of higher education topics, including Title IX.  He is professor of law, Charles A. Dana chair and director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law.  At Steptoe & Johnson, Professor Lake is a Senior Higher Education Attorney and member of the Steptoe & Johnson Higher Education Team.

Together with his teaching, Professor Lake practices law and writes in the areas of torts, higher education law and policy, insurance, and jurisprudence, and...

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