LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Federal investigators are examining whether former USC athletic director Pat Haden played a role in the national college admissions cheating scheme, according to a report published today.
Investigators are looking at Haden's relationship to Newport Beach businessman William Rick Singer, who would bribe college officials and sports coaches to have students admitted to universities as athletic recruits, even if the students had never participated in the sport, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing information from a person familiar with the investigation.
According to the person, investigators became interested in Haden only recently. He is among a number of people who haven't been charged in the scandal but are under scrutiny by prosecutors, according to the Journal.
It couldn't be determined whether Haden might face criminal exposure, the Journal reported.
Through his son-in-law, Donnie Dixon Haden, Haden said, “Like many people, I was introduced to Mr. Singer several years ago by a friend. I was unaware of his illegal activities and had no ongoing relationship with him whatsoever.”
Dixon Haden told the Journal his father-in-law hadn't been contacted by federal authorities.
Singer pleaded guilty in March to charges including racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Another person familiar with the matter said Haden connected Singer to Donna Heinel, who at the time was an athletic department official at USC and who has been charged in the cheating case.
Heinel has pleaded not guilty to racketeering conspiracy.
Haden brought Heinel into a meeting already under way on campus in his office, where Singer was present, the person told the Journal, and described Singer as someone Heinel should work with because he could “bring development to the school,” -- wealthy families willing to make donations to USC.
At the time, the department was under “tremendous pressure” to raise money, the person told the Journal.
When asked whether Haden played any role and the allegation that he connected Singer to Heinel USC told the Journal in a statement that its internal investigation was ongoing, and that the school “will continue to cooperate fully with all law enforcement and regulatory investigations. Ensuring the integrity of the admissions process remains a top priority of university leadership.”
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