Interim President Wanda Austin reveals plan to respond to admissions bribery investigation in a university email

Austin developed the plan while in Washington D.C. for the USC Women’s Conference.

Interim President Wanda Austin announced via email late Thursday night the university's plan in response to the national college admission scandal, also known as the "Varsity Blues" scandal, that embroils several American universities, including USC.

The university has opened its own investigation while it will remain "in full cooperation with the U.S. Justice Department," the email said.

"I want to assure you that I share your disappointment and concern about this matter," Austin said in her correspondence.

According to the email, this year's applicants who have been connected to the scheme will be denied admission. To determine if current students and graduates are connected to the scheme, USC has "initiated a case-by-case review." The reviews will be coordinated with USC's Office of Professionalism and Ethics, USC Student Affairs and USC Admissions.

The email also stated that USC started the process of identifying funds that are connected to the bribery allegation. "We will determine how best to redirect those funds for scholarships benefiting underserved student applicants," Austin wrote.

The response is Austin's second address to the university since the Varsity Blues indictments on Tuesday. USC previously terminated its Senior Associate Athletic Director Donna Heinel and Head Coach of USC Men's and Women's Water Polo Jovan Vavic, who both allegedly took bribes to facilitate the admissions process by designating students who never played competitive sports as recruits. In this email, Austin announced that the university 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."

"These recent revelations run counter to our values, which prioritize admissions based on merit and opportunity for all qualified candidates," Austin said in the email. "We will do all that is necessary to continue to strengthen our culture and restore trust in our community."

While in D.C., Austin met with the Board of Trustees, who gave their support to Austin's plan. Austin was present for a Trojan Women's reception on Thursday evening and is scheduled to speak at the USC Women's Conference Friday morning.

USC Board of Trustee member Kathy Leventhal gave brief remarks at the event and outlined Austin's promise the school would do the "case by case review." She expressed her disappointment but ended on a positive note, saying, "I hope that for USC, for the seven schools involved, for anybody that has a child who has dreams and aspirations of going to college that this is a lesson that we'll ultimately take a lot away from and be better for it."

Correction: In a previous version of the story, Leventhal was misquoted saying, "…this [scandal] is something we can take a lot away from and be better for it." She actually said, "this is a lesson that we'll ultimately take a lot away from and be better for it." We also added the beginning part of the quote and more context to clarify Leventhal's sentiment.