Bill Ferguson, who was charged earlier this year with racketeering in connection with a national academic admissions scandal, has resigned as Wake Forest’s women’s volleyball coach, the university said in a statement Thursday.
The announcement comes more than five months after Ferguson was put on administrative leave on March 12 after news of the scandal surfaced.
Ferguson, who joined Wake Forest’s staff in June 2016, is alleged to have illegally accepted $100,000 from a foundation to help an individual gain admission to Wake Forest.
He pleaded not guilty on March 25 in federal court.
“I loved our time at Wake, and I believe the volleyball program is in very good shape for the future. Wake is a wonderful place. I am proud of the players and assistant coaches who came through our program and those currently here,” Ferguson said in the university’s statement. “It’s essential that I step aside so that the team and coaches can continue to move forward while I focus on the case, and focus on my family. I look forward to the success the program will enjoy.”
He is one of 12 defendants who were either college coaches or private athletics groups named in what was dubbed Operation Varsity Blues by federal prosecutors in the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
Several coaches and actress Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty for their roles in the fake admissions scandal.
When asked for comment on Ferguson and the status of the case, the university deferred to the athletics department.
Steve Shutt, spokesman for Wake Forest athletics, said the department had no comment beyond what was in the university’s statement.
“With the volleyball season about to begin, we appreciate and respect Bill’s wish to put the interests of the student-athletes and the program first,” Athletics Director John Currie said in the statement. “Interim coach Randi Smart has done an excellent job of leading our student-athletes through this period of uncertainty. We are grateful for her continued leadership of the program as we get ready for our first home exhibition match this Saturday.”
That noon match is against Georgia in Reynolds Gymnasium.
Smart will continue as serve as the interim head coach. The Deacons’ season will begin Aug. 30 with a joint tournament with UNCG.