Ex-Yale coach pleads guilty in admissions scandal

BOSTON -- Former Yale women's soccer coach Rudy Meredith admitted in federal court Thursday to accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for helping high school students apply to the Ivy League school under false pretenses.

Meredith pleaded guilty to two charges of wire fraud, which each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and substantial fines. During his sentencing hearing in June, Meredith might make a statement about his involvement in the scheme, which has led to the indictment of dozens of wealthy parents and several college coaches.

He and his attorney, Paul Thomas, both declined to comment following Thursday's court appearance.

One of Meredith's charges stems from him accepting $860,000 from California-based college admissions counselor William "Rick" Singer as part of a scheme to help high school students from wealthy families secure spots in prestigious universities across the country.

Singer allegedly paid coaches from colleges including Yale, Texas, UCLA and USC to designate certain students as athletic recruits even if they had no experience playing sports or intention of playing at the college. The lower admission standards for athletes helped those students gain admissions to the universities.

The other charge against Meredith is for agreeing to accept a $450,000 bribe from the father of a high school student without the help of Singer. Thomas said in court that Meredith did not know the full extent of Singer's operation.

"His conspiracy was far narrower," Thomas said of Meredith. "He did not know about much of what was going on beyond his field."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen said the $860,000 Meredith accepted from Singer may have been payment for more than one applicant. In an indictment made public earlier this month, U.S. attorneys mentioned only one instance in which Singer and Meredith conspired to help a student get into Yale.

Meredith received $400,000 from Singer for the applicant mentioned in the indictment.

A statement posted on Yale's website earlier this week said the university has discovered only one student who was admitted as part of Meredith's scheme and that student's admission has since been rescinded.

Rosen said Thursday that they are continuing to investigate whether the parents of that student committed a crime. He said no charges related to that student have been "publicly revealed" at this point.

Meredith resigned from his post as the women's soccer coach last November, one day before the school learned about his indictment.

Rosen said Thursday they found no evidence of additional bribe money beyond the payments mentioned in court.

FBI agents captured Meredith accepting the $450,000 bribe on video in a hotel room in Boston last April. The father who offered that money started discussing the admissions scam with Meredith in the summer of 2017. He was subsequently caught engaging in an unrelated securities fraud crime and agreed to help expose Meredith's crimes.

Meredith received $2,000 in cash in the hotel room that day. He received another $4,000 via wire transfer within the next week. He was confronted shortly thereafter and started cooperating with the FBI, which led to agents unwinding the far-reaching scheme that has ensnared several major universities, prominent business leaders, attorneys, coaches and Hollywood celebrities.

Meredith will have to repay a maximum of $866,000 -- the amount he received from Singer plus the $6,000 worth of initial payments he received last April -- as part of his guilty plea. His attorney said Thursday that Meredith has already paid back more than $300,000 of that money.

Meredith is scheduled to return to court June 20 for his sentencing.