Sailing coach sharing story of innocence

Published on March 18th, 2021

Former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer was the first person to be sentenced in the sweeping corruption scandal that exposed the sophisticated network of college admissions ringleader William Rick Singer, who helped children of well-heeled clients cheat their way into elite universities.

Since pleading guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy for accepting $770,000 in bribes on behalf of the school’s sailing program, in which the U.S. District Court sentenced him to one day behind bars, two years of supervised release, with the first six months in home confinement, along with a $10,000 fine, Vandemoer has been writing a book about his innocence.

To be released on September 28, the book titled is Rigged Justice, How the College Admissions Scandal Ruined an Innocent Man’s Life. Here’s the description from publisher Harper Collins Canada:

The former Stanford University sailing coach sentenced in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal tells the riveting true story of how he was drawn unwittingly into a web of deceit in this eye-opening memoir that offers a damning portrait of modern college administration and the ways in which justice and fairness do not always intersect.

For eleven years, John Vandemoer ran the prestigious Stanford University sailing program in which he coached Olympians and All-Americans. Though the hours were long and the program struggled for funding, sailing gave Vandemoer’s life shape and meaning.

But early one morning, everything came crashing down when Vandemoer, still in his pajamas, opened the door to find FBI and IRS agents on his doorstep. He quickly learned that a recruiter named Rick Singer had used him as a stooge in a sophisticated scheme designed to take advantage of college coaches and play to the endless appetite for university fundraising—and wealthy parents looking for an edge for their college-bound children.

Vandemoer was summarily fired, kicked out of campus housing, his children booted from campus daycare. The next year of his life was a Kafkaesque hellscape, and though he was an innocent man who never received a dime was the first person to be convicted in what became known as the Varsity Blues scandal.

A true story that reads like a suspense novel, Rigged Justice lays bare how a sophisticated scheme could take advantage of college coaches and university money—and how one family became collateral damage in a large government investigation that dominated national headlines.

Vandemoer also appeared in a Netflix documentary titled Operation Varsity Blues released March 17 which revisited the 2019 bribery story.

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