As part of the “Operation Varsity Blues” case that federal prosecutors announced March 12, dozens of people – including Hollywood actresses and wealthy businessmen – stand accused of having bought their children’s way into elite colleges and universities.
In many ways, then, those ensnared in the current criminal case couldn’t have succeeded if the college admissions process wasn’t already biased toward wealthier families.
As a researcher who has studied how young athletes get admitted to college, I don’t see a major difference between this admission fraud case and how many wealthy families can buy their children’s way into elite colleges through “back” and “side” doors.
In my research, I show how most intercollegiate sports are fed by wildly expensive “pay to play” youth sports pipelines. These pipelines systematically exclude lower income families. It takes money to attend so-called “showcase tournaments” to get in front of recruiters.