To the Yale Community,
I am writing about the actions I have taken in the wake of revelations regarding an ongoing FBI investigation into an admissions fraud scheme that targeted universities nationwide, including Yale. Dozens of people have been charged with federal crimes. These individuals allegedly bribed athletic coaches and standardized testing officials, or accepted the bribes, to deceive the admissions offices of universities. These dishonest and criminal actions are an affront to our community’s deeply held values of fairness, inclusion, and honesty. I am therefore initiating a number of actions to make sure we understand the full impact of this criminal scheme on our university and to protect our admissions processes in the future.
The FBI investigation has revealed that a Yale coach gave bogus athletic endorsements to two students, one of whom was admitted to Yale College. (For more information, please see this FAQ.) When applicants sign their applications, they attest that the contents are true and complete. Although I do not comment on specific disciplinary actions taken with respect to an individual student, our longstanding policy is to rescind the admission of students who falsified their Yale College applications.
The ongoing federal investigation has publicized wrongdoing by one Yale coach who participated in this scheme; however, I have decided that we must conduct our own searching review in order to learn whether others have been involved in activities that have corrupted the athletic recruitment and admissions process. We will retain external advisors to assist us. They will be asked to recommend changes that will help us detect and prevent efforts to defraud our admissions process. As part of this review, we will specifically examine the practices of commercial admissions consultants, whose work is conducted out of the view of admissions officers.
Since her arrival on July 1, 2018, and before we knew of the federal investigation or its findings, Director of Athletics Victoria Chun independently had begun to put in place new policies and procedures regarding the oversight and assessment of our coaching staff. The goals of her initiatives are to ensure that student-athletes receive an excellent education at Yale and to enhance the quality of our athletic programs. In addition, going forward, Ms. Chun will conduct a review of coaches’ proposed rosters of recruits before they are sent to the admissions office, and situations in which a recruited athlete fails to make a team will receive close scrutiny. These measures will help prevent opportunities for undermining the fairness and integrity of the Yale College admissions process.
Ms. Chun is working with Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan to implement a code of conduct for athletic recruitment. They also will design even more robust training for all coaches to ensure they understand our recruitment procedures and the ethical expectations involved in supporting student-athletes in our admissions process.
Athletics is part of the educational mission of Yale College. Under the Ivy League model, those who play on our varsity teams are student-athletes, and “student” comes first. Our sports teams engender pride among our whole community, and I have often said that we bask in their reflected glory, bringing the Yale College community closer together. The athletics program, including the varsity teams, is also an important part of the Yale College educational experience; students better themselves by playing their sport. They learn self-discipline, how to work as part of a team, how to subordinate individual ambition to a group accomplishment, and how to be resilient in the face of failure. These skills are important in every area of life, including academics.
As we proceed with these first steps, we may find that more actions are necessary. I will not spare our university any scrutiny that will help us to be better and bolster the integrity of our community.
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology