Wake Forest University commencement 2018

Wake Forest University held its 2018 commencement in its traditional spot on Hearn Plaza. Reynolda Hall and the Winston-Salem skyline are in the background.

WINSTON-SALEM — Wake Forest University said it will redirect $50,000 it got from a California foundation connected to a nationwide admissions scandal.

In a message to campus Monday, university President Nathan Hatch said the money will go to the Magnolia Scholars program that supports first-generation college students who attend WFU.

Hatch also said he ordered the university's athletics director and admissions dean "to focus their attention jointly on reviewing and fortifying our admissions process."

Wake Forest found itself in the spotlight last week when federal prosecutors indicted women's volleyball coach Bill Ferguson as part of a nationwide scheme allegedly orchestrated by California college prep consultant Rick Singer.

Fifty people — 33 of them parents — face federal charges for illegally conspiring to get their children into several elite U.S. colleges. In some cases, parents allegedly paid Singer to help their children cheat on the SAT or ACT, either by getting answers to questions or having an impostor take the test for them. In other cases, students were portrayed as top athletes — they weren't — and coaches were allegedly bribed to help them get into selective schools through a side door reserved for actual college athletes.

Ferguson is accused of illegally accepting $100,000 from a foundation controlled by Singer to help the daughter of a Singer client gain admission to Wake Forest. The university said the student was admitted from the wait list and still attends the university. WFU said the student appears to have no knowledge of the scheme.

Half of Ferguson's alleged payment went to a volleyball camp the coach controlled, according to federal court documents unveiled March 12. The rest went to the university — $40,000 to the volleyball program and $10,000 to the Wake Forest Deacon Club, which raises money for the athletics department. Hatch, in his message to campus Monday, said the $50,000 donated to the university will go to the Magnolia Scholars program.

Ferguson was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering and is scheduled to appear in federal court Monday. Wake Forest suspended him as soon as the charge was announced.

Hatch said Wake Forest "has cooperated fully with the investigation and will continue to cooperate with the appropriate authorities." No other WFU employee has been accused of wrongdoing.

In his message, Hatch said Wake Forest and other schools "were targeted by a con man" and that "the pressure to attend a top-tier university led some people to take desperate and illegal measures."

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily morning newsletter.

Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.​

Recommended for you

Load comments