U.S. News & World Report today (Jan. 24) kicked out Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business from its ranking of the top 100 business schools in the U.S. The magazine took the severe action after the school admitted that it had misreported key data to U.S. News to rise in its annual ranking.
After an investigation by the prominent law firm of Jones Day, the school admitted that it inflated average GMAT scores reported to U.S. News by an average 35 points for consecutive five years from 2007 through 2011. Freeman also conceded that it had falsely increased the number of completed applications it received by an average of 116 applications over the same time period.
In the latest year, however, U.S. News revealed that the extent of the fraud was even somewhat greater than reported by Freeman. In an update to the school’s ranking, U.S. News’ Robert Morse said that the corrected average GMAT score for the fall 2011 entering class is now 631 versus the 670 originally reported by Freeman—a difference of 39 points.
A revision to the number of MBA applications received by the school showed an even greater difference than the originally reported number. The corrected figures showed that Freeman accepted 93% of its applicants for the fall 2011 entering class instead of 57%–a difference of 36 percentage points.
“The incorrect data were used by U.S. News to compute the Freeman School’s ranking in our 2013 Best Business Schools, published last March, thereby making its numerical rank higher than it otherwise would have been if the correct values has been used,” wrote Morse.
“Because of the discrepancy in the numerical rankings, U.S. News has changed the ranking for Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business from being a ranked school to an ‘unranked’ school in the Best Business Schools section. Unranked means that U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for this school.”
The magazine said Freeman will remained unranked until this spring’s publication of its new ranking and until the school confirms the accuracy of its next data submission. U.S. News did not reveal where Freeman would have ranked using the corrected figures provided by the school, and it did not change the rank of any other school on its list.
From 2010 to 2012, Tulane’s Freeman School increased its ranking by 10 full places to 43rd last year from 53rd in 2010 based on the incorrect data. Average GMAT scores loom large in the U.S. News’ methodology for calculating its MBA rankings, with a total weight of 16.25%. A school’s acceptance rate, which would be lower based on an inflated number of total applications, receives less weight, only 1.25%.
The school’s director of admissions for the five-year period for which false data was reported had been Bill Sandefer, who left the school in 2012 to become the senior director of graduate admissions at UC-Davis’ Graduate School of Management. UC Davis has since placed Sandefer on a “paid investigatory leave” while it investigates the matter.