Jul 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Former Georgetown coach gets longest sentence in college admissions scandal

Gordon Ernst, former head coach of the men's and women's tennis teams at Georgetown University.
Gordon Ernst, former tennis coach at Georgetown University, in Boston. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A former Georgetown University tennis coach who once trained former President Barack Obama's family was sentenced Friday to 2½ years in prison in the college admissions bribery scandal known as Operation Varsity Blues.

Why it matters: This is the toughest sentencing yet in the college admissions scandal, which saw dozens of wealthy parents — including celebrities Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman — pay bribes to get their children enrolled in elite colleges.

Details: Gordon Ernst was sentenced after he admitted to accepting nearly $3.5 million in bribe payments to facilitate the admission of unqualified students to Georgetown as purported tennis recruits, the Department of Justice said Friday.

  • The recruits weren't seen as Georgetown-caliber players.

Zoom in: Ernst pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges in the scandal in October 2021.

  • In addition to the prison sentence, he will serve six months in home confinement and forfeit $3.43 million.

What he said: Ernst told the judge in Boston's federal court that he acted out of line and did not follow the moral compass he often promotes to his players, according to CBS News.

  • "I'm most ashamed that I didn't follow what I was preaching to them," he said.

The big picture: Ernst's sentence is the longest one in the Operation Varsity Blues investigation.

  • In total, 54 parents pleaded guilty or were convicted in the scandal, including Loughlin and Huffman.
  • Dozens of parents worked with consultant William "Rick" Singer to tweak college entrance exams and secure admission through athlete recruitment.

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

Go deeper