Their parents paid to cheat them into elite colleges. What happens to them now?

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When Marin County investor Todd Blake touted his daughter’s admission to the University of Southern California on social media a year ago, she apparently had no clue he’d allegedly paid $250,000 to cheat her way into the elite school as a phony volleyball recruit.

So should she and other students like her caught up in a massive nationwide university admissions cheating scandal be punished?

That was among the burning questions Wednesday, a day after bombshell news broke of the case that implicated dozens of wealthy parents in the Bay Area and beyond.

Officials at many of the universities targeted by the fraud said Wednesday they were reviewing students cases individually, and at least one school, the University of Southern California, said it would deny any current applicants tied to the scheme.

Prosecutors allege the parents paid an intermediary, William Rick Singer, to fraudulently improve their kids’ scores on standardized tests and to bribe coaches at elite universities to declare them as sports recruits in exchange for generous donations to their programs.

For the grownups involved, justice came down swiftly. Singer, who cooperated with investigators’ efforts to implicate his associates and clients, pleaded guilty. So did a Stanford sailing coach who participated in the scheme. He and other accused coaches also were fired or suspended.

Many of the parents slapped with federal charges are also suffering the consequences in their professional lives.

Palo Alto hedge fund Hercules Capital announced Wednesday that Manuel Henriquez, charged along with his wife, has voluntarily stepped aside as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Bill McGlashan, a Bay Area private equity investor also charged, was put on leave from the TPG Growth fund.

But prosecutors made a point of not charging the kids, most of whom were said to have been unaware of their parents alleged scheming on their behalf.

Henriquez’ older daughter, however, allegedly “gloated” with her mother and the guy accused of helping her cheat on a standardized test in October 2015 “about the fact that they had cheated and gotten away with it.” She was admitted to Georgetown University the following spring as a member of the tennis team despite unimpressive athletic credentials, court documents said.

Universities now face hard choices in how to deal with students admitted through the cheating scheme Singer called a “side door” amid national outrage from parents and students fretting over their chances of legitimately getting accepted through a top school’s “front door.”

At Georgetown University, media relations manager Matt Hill would only say Wednesday that “we’re reviewing the details of the indictment and will be taking appropriate action.”

Don Heider, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, which was not implicated in the scandal, said Wednesday that universities would likely expel a student who knowingly participated. But it would be a tough call for those who were unaware.

“If you have credible evidence she had knowledge, you have to seriously think about ‘you finish the year and that’s it, you need to transfer to another university,'” Heider said. “If you don’t have credible evidence, I’m not sure it’s ethical to punish the student.”

It wasn’t clear if any students with bogus applications detailed in the court documents ended up at Bay Area schools. While Stanford’s sailing coach John Vandemoer pled guilty to promising coveted admissions spots to two students in exchange for more than $200,000 in payments to the sailing program, the students ended up attending other schools. Stanford pledged to re-direct the money it received in the scheme to an “entity unaffiliated with Stanford,” but would not answer questions Wednesday about its plans.

At Wake Forest University, a highly selective private university in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, President Nathan O. Hatch addressed the issue in a note Wednesday to students, faculty and staff.

Hatch acknowledged that the daughter of one of Singer’s client who allegedly paid a bribe to Wake Forest’s volleyball coach “was admitted and is currently enrolled,” but added that “we have no reason to believe the student was aware of the alleged financial transaction.”

Hatch said volleyball coach Bill Ferguson has since been placed on administrative leave and an interim replacement appointed.

“Wake Forest is reviewing our practices related to admissions and athletics to ensure that we are in complete alignment with our values,” he wrote.

At UCLA, court documents allege Singer arranged for soccer coach Jorge Salcedo to recruit one of Singer’s clients in exchange for a $100,000 contribution to Salcedo’s sports marketing company.

UCLA said in a statement Wednesday that Salcedo has been placed on leave and that the university “is not aware of any current student-athletes who are under suspicion.” But it also noted that “all students applying to a UC campus must sign a statement certifying the validity and accuracy of all information related to their application.”

“If UCLA discovers that any prospective, admitted or enrolled student has misrepresented any aspect of his/her application, or that information about the applicant has been withheld, UCLA may take a number of disciplinary actions, up to and including cancellation of admission,” spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said Wednesday.

Court papers allege two USC soccer coaches designated four Singer clients as team recruits in exchange for a $350,000 payment to their private soccer club, and a water polo coach named another client a recruit in exchange for private school tuition payments for the coach’s children. In addition, a USC administrator allegedly received $20,000 a month to “facilitate the admission

of several dozen students to USC as recruited athletes, even though many of those students had

fabricated athletic credentials and some did not even play the sports.”

USC is where actress Lori Loughlin and her designer husband Mossimo Giannulli were accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to have their two daughters designated crew team recruits to facilitate their admission, though they don’t participate in the sport.

It’s not clear whether the Giannulli sisters, Isabella and Olivia Jade, were aware of the alleged scam, though the younger daughter was photographed in an “action picture” meant to bolster her credibility as a crew coxswain.

“We will make informed, appropriate decisions once those reviews have been completed,” USC said in a statement Wednesday.

Heider found it hard to believe the students wouldn’t know about their parents’ efforts on their behalf.

“I find it mind boggling the students did not know more,” Heider said. “Maybe it’s possible, but it seems like a very odd process where the student is not involved. What does that say about the students themselves and how much responsibility they take for their education?”

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