Operation Varsity Blues received its first prison sentence today, and it was...not a big one. A judge sentenced John Vandemoer, ex-coach of Stanford University’s sailing team, to one single day in jail for taking bribe money from Rick Singer, the infamous college admissions scandal’s (alleged) ringleader.
According to CNN, Vandemoer pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit racketeering charges, having accepted $110,000 and $160,000 from Singer to falsely designate several Stanford applicants as sailing recruits. Massachusetts Judge Rya Zobel said Vandemoer, who was fired from Stanford shortly after the scandal news broke, “is probably the least culpable” of the 50 people charged, since he used Singer’s money to purchase equipment for the sailing team instead of keeping it for himself.
Still, Assistant US Attorney Eric Rosen recommended he be sentenced to 13 months behind bars:
“His actions not only deceived and defrauded the university that employed him, but also validated a national cynicism over college admissions by helping wealthy and unscrupulous applicants enjoy an unjust advantage over those who either lack deep pockets or are simply unwilling to cheat to get ahead,” Rosen wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed on June 7.
It is true that Vandemoer’s actions were less egregious than those of, say, two parents who *allegedly* paid $500,000 to cheat their daughters’ way into the University of Southern California (and won’t own up to it). Zobel also fined him $10,000 and sentenced him to six months house arrest and two years probation, so it’s not like he’s off totally scot-free.
But considering that struggling mothers like Kelley Williams-Bolar, who falsified records in hopes of getting their children in better public schools, were sentenced to more jail time than a man who helped rich kids cheat their way into one of the country’s most prestigious universities, it’s clear the system is still skewed in privilege’s favor.