Admissions Scandals Require Action to Protect Integrity

By: Peter F. Lake

Published: March 19, 2019

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 Steptoe & Johnson Higher Education Team recommends that each institution take the following steps:

  1. Conduct an independent review of existing programs to detect any preexisting issues, including a review of “red flag” students and athletes who appear to have anomalies in admission and/or selection files and/or in subsequent performance at the 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 any improper behavior
  5. Determine how to advance and protect brand and business interests against those who have acted to, or attempted to, undermine business interests of the institution including, but not limited to, orders to cease and desist work and the pursuit of potential claims of interference with business and contractual relations
  6. Develop a plan for how to comply with potential state and federal regulatory efforts designed to protect transparency and fairness in admissions and selection processes
  7. Determine actions to be taken to ensure compliance with NCAA requirements

Our Higher Education Team will consult with you at no charge to determine how to customize these services to your needs and can offer some a flat fee or other agreed upon arrangement to best meet your needs. Please contact the author with your questions about any aspect of this advisory.

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