Former UNF President gives his take on college admissions scandal

Aisling Glocke, Managing Editor

It’s been one week since the news broke of the most recent college admissions scandal. Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among the 50 individuals charged with allegedly bribing college coaches and other insiders to get their children into select universities. Former UNF President John Delaney was shocked to hear of the scandal and how long it had been going on for.

“Wow. Just wow,” He said was his reaction. ”You know often school’s reputation is tied to what’s known as the ‘Freshman Profile,’ which is how high their high school grades and their SAT or ACT test scores were. So, schools try to compete for the best students, and that’s one of the things we went after when I was at UNF, that we now have the third highest admission standard in the state.”

Delaney believes the proctors and coaches’ discretions were the main suspects in this “Near-perfect crime.”

“What it appears was going on is one, this happened before,” Delaney stated. “People have had substitutes take their SAT for them in the past, but they’ve really have tighten the security on that. In this case, it looks like there was a Harvard grad that would actually pretend to be a proctor and then would either take a test or correct the answers for students. So that was one avenue to be able to try and get an application to be accepted, which is to change the test scores…The other could be a near-perfect crime, which is coaches have pretty broad discretion over who they want to recruit to be members of their teams and most schools will lower the admission requirement for athletes. While I was President we did not do that at UNF and as a result, it’s one of the rare universities in the country where every single team is above a 3.0-grade point average. In this case the coaches were asking for what is known as an ‘athletic exemption,’ which means admitting an athlete with grades or test scores that aren’t the norm, but taking a bribe for it and some of the athletes weren’t even close to really being of a talent that would be worthy of the team. For men’s basketball team, for example, there’s twelve spots and the last couple players may never really play much. A coach can go ahead and bring a couple of those people in and not really hurt the team’s effort.”

Another way parents were able to cheat their way into the system was by presenting large donations to the universities.

“A number of the articles are pointing at that in some of these private schools, large donations to the school will persuade an enrollment department to admit a student who isn’t otherwise qualified,” Delaney said. “That’s legal. It may be distasteful, but that’s legal. I don’t know of that going on at a state school. I’ve never heard or seen anything like that.”

Delany believes the issue with the scandal is it’s more of an issue addressing greed then universities enrollment services.

“If somebody is going to cheat, like a coach, then they’re going to cheat,” Delaney Explains. “So yea, it can happen. You would think a flag would go up somewhere is a player would not otherwise qualified to make the team and some questions would get asked. For coaches pretty much they recruit who they want. They still have to get through enrollment services, but for many schools, they pretty much wave the academic requirements and sometimes you’ll wave it for a music student or an art student… You can make exceptions if you otherwise have an exceptional student.”

Amidst the scandal, Delaney stands with UNF and believes this kind of practice would never happen at UNF.

“If I was still President I wouldn’t lose my sleep over because the coaches are high-quality people at UNF and the Athletic Director is a very hands-on guy and if he felt there was somebody who was just not qualified to make the team, he’d be asking questions. And of course, our Enrollment Services Shop, and it’s changing with President Szymanksi, doesn’t really lower the admissions standards for athletes.”

In the spirit of history not repeating itself, Delaney advises universities to keep a close eye on college applicants and speak up if any red flags appear.

“The best bet is going to be to have a couple of sets of eyes on the applicants. If a red flag goes up and somebody can’t participate with the team or has well below the average high school grade point average or test scores that the school normally admits, it’s something to look into.”


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