Ex-UT tennis coach sentenced to 6-month prison term for involvement in admissions scandal


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Former University of Texas men’s tennis coach Michael Center will serve six months in prison for his involvement in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.

The sentence was handed down Monday afternoon in a Boston federal court by U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns. In addition to six months in prison, Center will have one year of supervised release, pay a $20,000 fine and forfeit $60,000.

Initially, the sentencing guidelines for Center could have been between 15 months and 21 months in prison. However, prosecutors recommended Center to serve six months with a fine of $20,000, deviating from those guidelines.

A University of Texas spokesperson released this statement to KXAN prior to Center’s sentencing:

Over the past year, the university has put in place controls and processes to prevent the kind of fraud Mr. Center pleaded guilty to. We remain focused on protecting the integrity of the admissions process for student-athletes.”

University of Texas

The University did not elaborate on what changes were made.

Center pleaded guilty to wire fraud on April 24. He was accused of accepting $100,000 to help an applicant get admitted to the University of Texas as a tennis recruit even though the student didn’t play the sport. Authorities say $60,000 of that was given to Center in cash during a meeting in a hotel parking lot.

UT fired Center last March after the scandal. He had been the coach for 18 seasons. The tennis team went on to win its first national championship in his absence.

Center was among dozens of coaches, prominent parents and others arrested in the nationwide admissions scam. Former coaches at Yale and Stanford also pleaded guilty. Former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer was not sentenced to prison. He was given two years of supervised release and a $10,000 fine. Former Yale women’s soccer coach Rudy Meredith has not been sentenced but is expected to get prison time.

This is the same scandal that led to charges against actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Huffman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two weeks in prison and a year of supervised release. Loughlin has pleaded not guilty.

Since the scandal broke, several students, including a student who was not given admission at UT, have sued the elite universities.

You can read the latest on where every person’s case stands in the admissions scandal on the Justice Department’s website.

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