In many ways, the college admissions system was also on trial. The defense argued that its clients were playing by the rules as they understood them: that wealthy parents could get a benefit for their children by donating. In this case, they paid the money through a corrupt college consultant, William Singer, who said he had a “side door” reserved for recruited athletes.
Mr. Singer’s program has cast an unflattering light on the college coaching industry, in which parents pay thousands of dollars for tutoring and counseling services to help their children enter prestigious institutions. And it showed how many students are using varsity athletics to gain a big advantage in admissions, reinforcing a cynical view that entering highly selective schools can be a transactional process.
But prosecutors stressed the universities were not being tried and this was not a traditional admissions case. The defendants, they said, went to great lengths to pay bribes and falsify their children’s sports profiles.
Even so, the case could lead to self-examination by admissions officials, said Jeffrey M. Cohen, former federal prosecutor and associate professor at Boston College Law School.
“People who try to cheat are always looking for the weakest link,” Mr. Cohen said, adding: “What is shocking about this matter is that we have seen in broad daylight that people are lying in order to move on. through those weak links in the intake system. “
USC issued a statement saying, “We respect the judicial process and the jury’s decision.”
The verdict was a swift and resounding victory for the prosecution. The jury entered the courtroom shortly after 2:30 p.m. Friday, just over 24 hours after its deliberations began. The court clerk read the verdict form, pronouncing each man’s name and a separate “guilty” verdict, over and over, five times for the charges they had in common, and six times for Mr. Wilson, an overwhelming pile of culprits.
“Obviously that’s not the outcome he was looking for, but you know it’s our system and that’s why they have courts of appeal, so that’s what we’ll do next,” he said. lawyer for Mr. Abdelaziz, Brian Kelly, in front of the courthouse. .