Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are being charged in a large-scale college entrance exam cheating scam.
PHOENIX – Arizona State University has nothing to do with the federal bribery case that is rocking some of the country’s most elite universities and entangled Hollywood actors with college coaches.
Well, almost nothing.
In a supporting document in the case, ASU gets knocked as an example of a place where Hollywood actor Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, don’t want their daughter to go to school.
Loughlin, known for her role as Aunt Becky on “Full House,” and Giannulli agreed to pay $500,000 in bribes to get their two daughters designated as recruits to the University of Southern California’s crew team, though the girls did not participate in crew, court documents allege.
Giannulli wrote to a cooperating witness in 2016, copying Loughlin on the email:
“We just met with (our older daughter’s) college counselor this am. I’d like to maybe sit with you after your session with the girls as I have some concerns and want to fully understand the game plan and make sure we have a roadmap for success as it relates to (our daughter) and getting her into a school other than ASU!”
Giannulli is founder of the clothing company Mossimo.
The cooperating witness responded that they had a “game plan ready to go into motion” for USC.
Late-night hosts and TV shows like “The Simpsons” and “30 Rock” have made ASU the butt of jokes foryears. Seth MacFarlane has taken several shots at ASU in his work, including extensively insulting the school in his movie “Ted 2.”
The school has worked to improve its reputation nationally, though it has not made admissions more selective. ASU President Michael Crow frequently says a college should be able to be both inclusive in its admissions and excellent in academic quality.
Loughlin’s first husband, Michael R. Burns, graduated from ASU. Burns is now the vice chairman of film company Lionsgate. Giannulli went to USC, but does not appear to have graduated.
In a statement, ASU said it had “no comment on a glib, uninformed remark.”
But, the university’s statement says the underlying issue of college selectivity deserves attention.
“Some universities have decided the most important thing they can do is turn away deserving, qualified applicants just so they can seem more exclusive. That leads to perverse incentives and perverse actions, as we are witnessing unfold right now,” ASU said.
But ASU believes limited access to college is a “recipe for disaster for our country” and is instead focusing on increasing access and academic quality.
“And a note to potential Sun Devils: You can apply any time –no shenanigans needed,” ASU said.
High-profile Arizona native Meghan McCain jumped in to defend ASU. The McCain Institute for International Leadership is housed at ASU’s Washington, D.C., building.
“To Aunt Becky’s husband who talked s–t about ASU — The @McCainInstitute for International Leadership does incredible work w/ students in cooperation with ASU and I guarantee those students involved will go on to do great things in the world and didn’t have to lie to get there,” McCain wrote on Twitter.
Contributing: Anne Ryman of The Arizona Republic, USA TODAY
Follow Rachel Leingang on Twitter: @rachelleingang
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