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Yale connection to college admissions scandal has state senator’s attention

NEW HAVEN - Tuesday, 50 people, including the now former Yale University women's soccer coach, were arrested and charged with bribery and fraud in connection with a nationwide college admissions scheme. Wednesday, a Yale alum, who is in the college preparation business, is spoke out.

"My priority and one of the priorities of many of my colleagues is to make college more affordable and accessible," said State Sen. James Maroney (D-Milford), who, for 20 years, has owned First Choice College, a college advising and test preparation company.

"It is a little discouraging, I think, for many of those students, who work hard, that think that slots may be going to those that don’t necessarily, haven’t earned them on their own merits," Maroney said.

And he's concerned for his business because federal prosecutors allege another admissions consultant made millions assisting wealthy parents get their kids into elite colleges and universities by cheating on college entrance exams or getting them in as recruited athletes for sports they don’t play.

"It’s a black mark on the profession, unfortunately that’s really not what the majority of us want to do," said Maroney.

Nobody answered the door at the Madison home of former Yale women's soccer coach, Rudy Meredith, who resigned in the fall and Tuesday was charged with accepting hundreds of thousands in bribes as part of this case.

"He was a great guy," said Maroney, a Yale alumnus. "I was in college when he came in as a coach. I knew, I was friends with some of the women on the soccer team and they all loved him."

Maroney offered his best advice to students and parents feeling pressure.

"I try to tell people you know you can get a good education anywhere and that there’s more than one right school for every student."

He says when he first opened his business 20 years ago, Yale received roughly 12,000 applications and admitted about 1,700-1,800 of those applicants. Now, he says, they receive roughly 30,000 applications and not many more are admitted than 20 years ago.

Parents of prospective Yale students weighed in, as well.

"My son has been working his butt off since elementary school. He’s got a 4.2 in all of his to classes," said Dave Zelman of Cleveland, Ohio.

"I think the whole thing is tragic," he added.

And what irks him the most?

"The idea that there’s people that tried to control the process and pay for their child’s access," he said.

Now, former Yale women’s soccer coach Rudy Meredith is among the dozens accused in the scheme. He allegedly accepted bribes, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, in exchange for designating applicants to Yale as athletics recruits, which was false.

"I think those people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law if they’re taking elicit payments," Zelman said. "Obviously, it’s tax avoidance, at a minimum."

Among the parents touring Yale was Hal Lambert, who commentates on business for networks including Fox. He's also written about college admissions, including in a Real Clear Politics commentary in January.

"I think it’s going to be a lot bigger than what’s come out already," Lambert said. "That would be my guess. I think it’s probably the tip of the iceberg. I think it’s also happening internationally."

Mr. Zelman says the only things parents should be paying for, in an effort to get their children into a good school, is tutoring and test prep courses.

"I’ve said tongue-in-cheek if my kid gets into the community college, because that’s what his academic mandates, then that is on the kid," Zelman said.

In a written statement, Yale says "The university has cooperated fully in the investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case moves forward.”

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