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UT News

Statement on Federal Investigation

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Update, September 9, a message to campus from President Gregory L. Fenves:

September 9, 2019

Dear UT Community,

Earlier this year, federal law enforcement exposed an athletics admissions scandal involving coaches and administrators at eight universities, including UT Austin. The scandal undermined the public’s trust and provoked outrage. At UT, we are holding ourselves accountable and improving protocols across Texas Athletics.

The federal investigation showed that in 2015, then-UT Men’s Tennis Coach Michael Center accepted a bribe as part of the student-athlete admissions process. Mr. Center was terminated from his position with the university a day after the federal charges were filed and later pleaded guilty.

Soon after the facts of the case became public, I tasked Jim Davis, UT’s vice president for legal affairs, with leading a legal review to find out what happened, evaluate whether any other student-athletes were fraudulently admitted and recommend controls to protect the integrity of the admissions process for student-athletes. His legal team’s efforts included numerous interviews with UT staff members and an analysis of the admission and athletics participation of more than 800 student-athletes over an 18-year period.

The legal review is now complete, and we can report that no other student-athletes were found to have been improperly admitted to UT beyond the facts identified in the legal filings against Mr. Center. To prevent any recurrence, we will be implementing recommendations designed to close the identified vulnerabilities in the student-athlete admissions process. This will require us to set clearer standards for measuring athletic legitimacy, while improving procedures throughout Texas Athletics.

The details of the legal review contain information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and are confidential. However, an executive summary is now available.

The University of Texas at Austin thrives because of our commitment to our ethics and core values. When we come up short, it is critical that we acknowledge mistakes and work swiftly to improve. That’s the only way we can maintain the trust and commitment of the society we were founded to serve.

Sincerely,

Gregory L. Fenves
President

Update, March 25

The university received a letter from the Department of Education about a preliminary investigation and is working with the department to respond to their questions regarding admissions while we conduct our own internal review.

Update, March 18

Update, March 14, response to news of a class-action lawsuit

Like many students and families across the country, we are also outraged that parents, outside actors and university employees may have committed fraud surrounding admissions at universities.

The University of Texas has a thorough, holistic admissions process. The actions alleged by federal prosecutors against one UT employee were not in line with that policy and may have been criminal. They do not reflect our admissions process.

Update, March 13, a message to campus from President Gregory L. Fenves:

Dear UT Community,

As many of you know, criminal charges were filed yesterday against a number of staff members and coaches at eight universities for alleged bribery and admissions fraud. One University of Texas employee — Men’s Tennis Coach Michael Center — was charged as part of an extensive federal investigation.

We take the criminal allegations against Michael Center very seriously and, as of today, he has been terminated as a UT employee. I have asked Vice President for Legal Affairs Jim Davis to conduct a thorough review of the alleged 2015 fraud that Mr. Center has been charged with, and to determine whether the university has the necessary rules and procedures in place to prevent violations in the future.

The integrity of UT admissions is essential to our mission as a research university and to the students and families we serve. That is why any act of wrongdoing, no matter how singular, matters so deeply.

At UT, tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff members, coaches and admissions officers conduct themselves with honor and distinction every day. Any ethical breach overshadows their accomplishments and violates our culture of service and distinction. Moving forward, we must continue to strive for the highest ethical standards at The University of Texas.

Sincerely,

Gregory L. Fenves
President

Statement March 12 from Media Relations Director J.B. Bird:

Integrity in admissions is vital to the academic and ethical standards of our university. The University of Texas at Austin is cooperating with federal investigators and is concerned by the allegations raised, which run counter to the university’s values. Men’s Tennis Coach Michael Center was placed on leave as soon as we learned of the charges against him, which are being fully investigated. We are continuing to gather information and review our processes. Based on what we know at present, we believe this was an isolated incident in 2015 that involved one coach and no other university employees or officers.