UCLA refutes Jorge Salcedo’s allegations of athletics admissions misconduct
UCLA Athletics was implicated in last year’s college admissions scandal after former men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo was charged with accepting bribes to let unqualified athletes into the school. (Kristie-Valerie Hoang/Daily Bruin senior staff)
January 25, 2020 12:58 pm
This post was updated Jan. 25 at 5:55 p.m.
UCLA denied claims made by a former UCLA men’s soccer coach, who accused the university of strategically admitting under-qualified student-athletes to raise money for the athletic department in a motion filed Thursday by his attorneys.
Jorge Salcedo’s motion requested documents that allegedly show an internal UCLA investigation that implicated the university – not just Salcedo, who resigned from his position in March 2019 following racketeering charges – in unjustly admitting kids of wealthy donors.
The document request implicates both present and former UCLA staff and alleges potential misconduct during the admissions process for a 2013 track and field recruit and a potential 2014 women’s water polo recruit. Salcedo’s motion also suggests that a gymnast with no competitive experience was admitted to the university as a member of the 2017 team.
According to UCLA’s statement, however, the motion was inaccurate in omitting details about UCLA Athletics’ efforts to improve the student-athlete admissions process.
“Yesterday’s motion is a false and misleading effort by the criminal defense team for former men’s soccer head coach Jorge Salcedo to defend him against serious criminal charges based on information that has already been widely reported and addressed by UCLA,” the statement said.
The motion specifically addressed a 2014 internal investigation into the school’s admissions process, under which the UCLA Compliance Office examined the admission of two student-athletes as well as a broader pattern of unethical recruiting for the men’s tennis team.
UCLA stated that it implemented new rules following the investigation, including prohibiting donations from families before their child was admitted as well as history and athletic qualification checks for walk-ons.
The statement further noted that by falsifying athletic resumes for athletes, Salcedo defied UCLA’s policies.
“The filing contains misleading assertions and notably omits that UCLA Athletics implemented a number of policies and practices aimed at strengthening the student-athlete admissions process immediately following the 2014 investigation,” the statement said. “The government has alleged that Salcedo got around these policies by helping submit a false athletic resume to the University.”
The first case allegedly involved UCLA Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations Josh Rebholz and former assistant men’s tennis coach Grant Chen conspiring to admit a family friend of Chen’s as a member of UCLA track and field for the 2013-2014 season in exchange for $100,000, despite the student’s lack of collegiate-level ability.
The second incident, according to the motion, revolved around the daughter of a wealthy donor being admitted under the pretense of water polo experience despite never having played the sport.
The motion also alleged that UCLA men’s tennis coach Billy Martin – who has been a staff member for 37 years – and William Singer – who pleaded guilty to four charges regarding his role as the overseer in the college admissions scandal – worked with Chen to gain an unqualified student a spot on UCLA women’s water polo for the 2014-2015 season under the condition that her family donated $150,000 to the university as a “show of appreciation.”
Former women’s water polo coach Brandon Brooks agreed to accept the student as a player or a manager, even after she admitted she had no experience with the sport, according to the motion. Brooks – who played for UCLA from 1999-2002 – stepped down in 2017 after coaching for eight seasons.
The motion states, however, that the prospective student was not admitted, and her mother appealed the reversal of her daughter’s prior admission to UCLA’s Admissions Committee, sparking the internal investigation.
The Compliance Office was forced to examine the men’s tennis program’s admissions records over the previous 10 years, during which Martin and Singer were believed to be cooperating.
The investigation led to the Compliance Office finding 10 of the 54 student-athletes accepted to UCLA men’s tennis in that 10-year span to be of “limited” athletic ability, and that a high percentage of those 10 students came from families that made substantial donations the athletics program, according to the motion.