college admissions scandal

Why Did So Many People Pretend to Row Crew in the College Scam?

Lori Loughlin (center) with her daughters Bella (left) and Olivia Jade.
Lori Loughlin (center) with her daughters Bella (left) and Olivia Jade. Photo: 2017 Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

The widespread college admissions scam allegedly involved wealthy parents paying fraudster ringleader William “Ring” Singer thousands upon thousands of dollars to bribe or scheme their kids’ way to into prestigious universities.

In some instances (as with actress Felicity Huffman’s daughter), Singer allegedly arranged for entrance exam scores to be doctored; in others (like with Full House star Lori Loughlin and daughters Bella and Olivia Jade), he has been accused of helping the kids fraudulently get recruited for sports they didn’t actually play. And in many cases, as the Los Angeles Times points out, that sport was rowing.

But … why?

Sports like soccer and basketball may seem perhaps like the more logical activities to be recruited to a university for, as they have loyal fans and a big following. But apparently, rowing’s relatively smaller amount of “fan or media scrutiny” is one of the things that made it such an appealing sport for the scam, along with its penchant for recruiting female athletes. Per the Times:

Crew was a particularly soft target for Singer’s recruiting scam. Schools with high-profile football programs use the sport as a Title IX counterweight, allotting women’s rowing programs as many as 20 scholarships, said Linda Muri, who coached crew at Cornell, Dartmouth and Harvard for two decades.

As a result, some crew programs have rosters of 40 or 50 rowers — enough, perhaps, to stow away one or two in the recruiting process who didn’t belong, Muri said.

Ah, makes sense. We can only wonder whether Photoshopping images of students’s heads onto rowers bodies was easy.

Why Did Everyone Pretend to Row Crew in the College Scam?