Update: In an email to the university on Thursday night, Interim President Wanda Austin also announced that the university has placed Dentistry faculty member Homa H. Zadeh, who was listed as a parent in the indictment, on leave. Austin said putting him on leave "is a required procedural step in the process for terminating tenured faculty."
USC students and officials on Wednesday were searching for answers in the aftermath of the nationwide crackdown on college fraudulent admissions practices.
A university spokesman told a local television station Wednesday that USC is undergoing a case-by-case review of the students involved in the nationwide racketeering conspiracy revealed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Four USC athletic officials were among the 50 individuals, including "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin, charged in cases affecting some of the most elite universities across the country including Ivy League schools. USC has since fired two employees involved in the scandal and pledged to investigate further, according to a statement from interim President Wanda Austin.
Austin said USC Senior Associate Athletic Director Donna Heinel and Head Coach of USC Men's and Women's Water Polo Jovan Vavic have been fired.
University spokesman Gary Polakovic was quoted by KTLA and others saying there would be a review for students who could be involved. The university will "make informed, appropriate decisions once those reviews have been completed. Some of these individuals may have been minors at the time of their application process," he said, according to KTLA.
Austin said in her Tuesday letter that the school has "planned significant remedial efforts" and pledged to take appropriate employment actions and to review admissions decisions. "We will be implementing significant process and training enhancements to prevent anything like this from ever happening again." Austin is scheduled to speak at the USC Women's Conference in Washington Friday morning.
The scheme was linked to multiple universities across the nation, including Georgetown, Yale, University of California Los Angeles, the University of Texas at Austin, Stanford, Wake Forest and the University of San Diego, according to charges released by the Department of Justice. Officials from these schools have varying degrees of involvement.
The two other officials charged, USC women's soccer coaches Laura Janke and Ali Khosroshahin, previously left their positions in late 2013 and early 2014.
In an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint, FBI Agent Laura Smith alleged that the four athletic officials worked with wealthy parents to fabricate athletic profiles to make their children more suitable candidates for admission. In return, parents paid roughly $250,000 per admission. Prosecutors alleged at least $50,000 of each payment went directly to Heinel through a check made out to "USC Women's Athletics." Other payments were funneled through donations to the Galen Center.
In a letter to the USC community, Austin suggested the school is a "victim" and wrote that "we are identifying all funds received that may be connected to the government's allegations."
In a different scheme, parents would pay for an arrangement that allowed people to take the SAT and ACT tests on behalf of their children. Many of those tests were taken in a center in Hollywood, according to the federal documents.
"These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege," U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a press conference Tuesday. "All of them knowingly conspired to help their children either cheat on the SAT or ACT or buy their children's admission to elite schools through fraud."
Chair of USC Board of Trustees Rick J. Caruso expressed shock and remorse in a statement similar to Austin's, calling the charges "disturbing" and "absolutely wrong," adding that there is "zero tolerance for this type of behavior."
According to the Department of Justice, Heinel, Janke, Khosroshahin, and Vavic will appear for a hearing in federal court in Boston on March 25.
USC Athletics has not responded to requests for comment from Annenberg Media.
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