HBS & Stanford MBAs Snared In College Admissions Scandal

“I was dismayed to learn that two of the individuals charged are GSB alumni,” wrote Stanford GSB Dean Jon Levin

A HARVARD MBA HANDS OVER $1 MILLION TO GET HIS TWO DAUGHTERS ADMITTED TO HARVARD & STANFORD

Wilson, the Harvard MBA who graduated at the age of 23 and has held executive roles at both Staples and The Gap, is accused of conspiring to not only bribe the USC water polo coach to get his son into that school but to also later use bribes to get his two daughters into Stanford and Harvard as recruited athletes.

Wilson openly worried, however, if his son would be found out when he showed up on campus. “Would the other kids know (my son) was a bench warmer side door person?” He asked in an email dated March 26, 2013. “Obviously, his skill level may be below the other freshmen. In your view will he be so weak as to be a clear misfit at practice?”

An informant from the consulting company advised him that his son would not be expected to play water polo for USC, and after attending practices in the first semester “he can move on.” Ultimately, a falsified profile, including promises to a USC athletics administrator that Wilson’s son “would be the fastest player on the team.” He claimed that Wilson’s son could swim 50 yards in 20 seconds. His son was admitted in March of 2014. Wilson sent three wires, totaling $220,000, to pay for the USC admission.

‘SIDE DOOR ADMISSIONS’

Later, when Wilson wanted to get his daughters in by a “side door,” he was asked to deposit $500,000 to Key Worldwide Foundation. He wired the funds on Oct. 17 of 2018 to an account opened at the direction of federal agents. Ten days later on Oct. 27th, the informant called Wilson to tell him he secured a “side door” deal for one of his daughters with the Stanford sailing coach. Then, in November, Wilson was told that a spot was secured at Harvard through a senior women’s administrator in exchange for another $500,000 payment which he wired on Dec. 11.

“So I got the senior women’s administrator at Harvard is going to give us a spot. What we have to do is we’ll have to give her $500,000,” the informant told Wilson. “That money, obviously, like the others, will go through my foundation and then I will fund the senior women’s administrator at Harvard.” That so-called administrator was “fictitious,” and the Massachusetts account to which he wired the money was opened at the direction of federal investigators.

In at least one instance, between Northwestern Kellogg MBA Huneeus and Stanford MBA McGlashan, there was a connection. Huneeus daughter attended the same high school as McGlashan’s son. He sought the consulting firm’s help to get his daughter into USC as a water polo star.

Huneeus allegedly paid $50,000 for someone to proctor the SAT exam for his daughter in March of 2018. The informant working for the consultant story told Huneeus that he controlled the test center and could arrange for his daughter’s wrong answers on the SAT to be corrected after she completed the exam. The consultant also arranged for a psychologist to recommend that Huneeus’ daughter get extra time on the SAT over successive days, rather than a single sit down.

GETTING A FAKE SAT SCORE OF 1380 BUT A PARENT WORRIES THAT IT ISN’T HIGH ENOUGH

She received a score of 1380 out of a possible 1600 on the SAT, giving her a rank in the 96th percentile nationally. But Huneeus would later complain about the score in a phone call to the consultant that was intercepted in a wiretap.

“What I’m trying to understand is that…you have a plan for the system, so you know, if you had wanted to, I mean (my daughter’s) score could have been 1550, right?”

“No,” the consultant told him, ‘cause I would have got investigated for sure based on her grades.”

Huneeus apparently learned about the scam from McGlashan.

‘IS BILL MCGLASHEN DOING ANY OF THIS SHIT?’

“Is Bill McGlashan doing any of this shit?,” asked Huneeus. “Is he just talking a clean game with me and helping his kid or not? Cause he makes me feel guilty. Or are you just taking care of him in a way that he doesn’t know because you have other interests with him?”

Huneeus told the consultant that McGlashan wouldn’t openly admit he cheated to his son into college. “The way Bill McGlashan laid it out, which I know is not true…he said, ‘Look, I’m gonna push, I’m gonna prod, I’m gonna use my relationships, but I’m not gonna go and pay to get my kid in.’ And that’s kinda how he drew the line.”

In another call, Huneeus expressed concern that the scam could go public. “Is there any risk that this thing blows up in my face?” he asks.

“Hasn’t in 24 years,” replied the consultant.

What if, Huneeus asked, an article came out about the “polo team selling seats into the school for 250 grand.”

“Well, no, because she’s a water polo player,” the consultant said.

“But she’s not,” said Huneeus.

‘DUDE, DUDE, WHAT DO YOU THINK, I’M A MORON?’

By September of 2018, the consultant sent USC an email that included Huneeus’ daughter’s high school transcripts, her fraudulent SAT score, and a fabricated athletic profile that falsely identified her as a “3-year Varsity Letter winner” in water polo and “Team MVP 2017,” along with a photo of another person playing water polo.

After Huneeus sent a $50,000 check payable to the USC Women’s Athletics Board, the consultant called him at the direction of law enforcement agents and told him the IRS was auditing the foundation.

“What I want to make sure is that you and I are both on the same page because what I’m going to tell them is that you made a 50K donation to my foundation for underserved kids…”

“Dude, dude, what do you think, I’m a moron?,” replied Huneeus. “I got it. I got it. I’m going to say that I’ve been inspired (by) how you’re helping underprivileged kids get into college. Totally got it.”

DON’T MISS: CAN YOU BRIBE YOUR WAY INTO BUSINESS SCHOOL?

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.