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Sentencing for Stanford sailing coach

Published on June 11th, 2019

The nationwide college bribery scandal known as Operation Varsity Blues, which has led to criminal charges against 50 people, including 33 parents of students seeking admission, brought sailing into the spotlight when Stanford coach John Vandemoer pleaded guilty to his involvement.

Vandemoer is a good guy who has been a long time contributor to the sport, but he made some bad decisions that cost him his job and possibly his freedom. The incident also highlighted flaws in the student-athlete application process at Stanford. Here are the latest updates:

• After pleading guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, in receiving or expecting to receive a total of $610,000 in bribes to recruit applicants to Stanford’s sailing team, Vandemoer is asking for a sentence of probation, while federal prosecutors are seeking to lock him up for 13 months.

He’s scheduled to be the first defendant sentenced in the college admissions scandal, when he appears before Judge Rya Zobel on June 12 in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Both the defense and prosecutors agree Vandemoer did not personally profit financially from the bribes, but rather had the money directed to accounts for the sailing team. Also, none of the students he conspired to admit ended up attending Stanford.

Prosecutors, in suggesting a sentence of 13 months in prison with another year of supervised release, contend the funds enhanced his status within the university, gave him more money to use for the sailing program he implemented, and furthered his career. Full story.

• Stanford University told a federal judge on June 10 it is working with the state attorney general’s office to find a worthy cause for $770,000 donated by families of would-be recruits to the school’s sailing team, including $610,000 in bribes to the coach.

Stanford “views those funds as tainted “ and “does not wish to benefit in any way” from the conduct of former coach John Vandemoer, the university’s general counsel, Debra Zumwalt, said in a “victim impact statement” to the judge in Boston who is handling Vandemoer’s criminal case.

Zumwalt said the school wants the funds to be used for the “public good.” Stanford is consulting with the charitable division of Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office on how to redirect the funds, said Brad Hayward, a university spokesman. Full story.

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