Nov 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Former USC athletics official pleads guilty in college admissions scheme

Donna Heinel, left, of California, who was senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California
Donna Heinel, left, of California, who was senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California. Photo: Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former University of Southern California athletics official pleaded guilty Friday to taking part in the college bribery scheme, the Boston Globe reports.

The big picture: Prosecutors say that Donna Heinel, USC's former senior associate athletic director, helped more than two dozen students gain admission as recruited athletes in exchange for payments from college consultant William "Rick" Singer and his wealthy clients.

  • Heinel pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court of Boston to one count of honest services wire fraud, per The Globe. Prosecutors agreed to drop several other charges in exchange for her guilty plea.

Details: Heinel faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, the AP writes, but prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of 37 to 46 months, according to the New York Times.

  • She will also be required to pay $160,000 that she "received in purported consulting fees" from Singer, the Times reports.

Background: Heinel, along with school officials and coaches from Georgetown, Stanford and Yale, was accused of taking bribes from Singer to get his clients' children into some of the country's top universities.

  • Federal prosecutors have charged over 50 people for allegedly bribing coaches since 2019.
  • Heinel admitted that she misled an admissions subcommittee by presenting candidates who were not qualified to be athletic recruits, the Times reports.

Of note: A former Georgetown University head tennis coach pleaded guilty Oct. 26 to bribery charges in relation to the college cheating scheme.

Go deeper: Timeline: The major developments in the college admissions scandal

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