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Saturday March 23rd, 2019 2:48AM

The Latest: URI got positive Georgetown coach recommendation

By The Associated Press
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on a college admissions bribery scandal that has led to charges against coaches and celebrities (all times local):

2 p.m.

The University of Rhode Island says its athletic director called Georgetown University's athletic director this year before hiring a tennis coach now implicated in a college admissions scheme and received a positive recommendation.

Court documents allege Gordon Ernst was paid more than $2.7 million and designated at least 12 applicants as recruits, facilitating their admission to Georgetown.

Georgetown spokeswoman Meghan Dubyak said this week that Ernst has not coached there since 2017 after an investigation found he violated university admissions rules.

URI said in a statement Thursday that its athletic director contacted Georgetown in July. URI spokesman Dave Lavalee says the university was not told about the 2017 admission rules violations.

The statement also says URI also reached three out of four of Ernst's references, who gave him positive recommendations, and a background check showed no criminal history.

Ernst was hired in Rhode Island in August. He has been placed on administrative leave.

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1:25 p.m.

A Brown University spokesman says the Ivy League school has completed "a case-by-case review" of its athletes, which "generated zero concerns" related to the college admissions scandal.

Brian Clark said Thursday that the review looked at every varsity athlete admitted and enrolled as part of the athletic recruitment process over the last four years.

He says it's part of an effort to verify the integrity of the admissions process.

Golfer Phil Mickelson on Thursday said his family hired the man at the center of the alleged scheme, William "Rick" Singer, but emphasized they were not involved in any fraud.

Mickelson's daughter attends Brown.

Asked about her, Clark declined to disclose student names but said university officials reviewed a student's application material and academic credentials and that the review "raised no concerns at all."

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12:45 p.m.

Cosmetics company Sephora says it's dropping its social-media relationship with actress Lori Loughlin's daughter after her parents were charged in a bribery scheme to get her into college.

Paris-based Sephora says in a statement Thursday that after reviewing the developments, the company has ended its partnership with 19-year-old Olivia Jade Giannulli "effective immediately."

Giannulli is a social media star with millions of followers and frequently pushes products online.

Her father is fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, and her parents are among 50 people arrested in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.

Prosecutors allege the couple paid $500,000 to have their two daughters labeled as crew-team recruits at the University of Southern California, even though neither is a rower.

An attorney representing her parents didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

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12:25 p.m.

Golfer Phil Mickelson says he is among "thousands" who used a college consulting company accused of orchestrating a massive bribery scheme.

Mickelson said on Twitter Thursday that his family was "shocked" by the recent revelations about William "Rick" Singer. Mickelson emphasized that his family was not involved in any fraud.

The golfer has not been charged with a crime or implicated in the bribery scandal.

Federal prosecutors say Singer led a scheme in which wealthy parents bribed sports coaches and other officials to get their children into elite universities. More than 50 people have been charged.

Mickelson's daughter attends Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

The university did not respond to a request for comment.

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12:20 p.m.

Lawyers suing universities in a college admissions scandal have revised their lawsuit to include plaintiffs from less prestigious schools.

The attorneys filed an amended lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco on Thursday.

The original suit was filed on behalf of two Stanford University students who claimed they were harmed because they were denied a fair opportunity for admission to schools to which they applied.

Legal experts said that was a hard argument to make since the two students, Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods, got into the elite college.

The revised lawsuit drops Olsen and includes students from Tulane University, an unnamed community college and Rutgers University.

More than 50 people were charged earlier this week in the scandal.

Prosecutors have said wealthy parents paid to rig standardized scores and bribed sports coaches to get their children into elite universities.

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12:15 p.m.

Hallmark says it is cutting ties with actress Lori Loughlin following her arrest in a sprawling college admissions scam case.

In a statement Thursday, the parent company of the Hallmark Channel says it was "saddened" by the recent allegations.

Hallmark Cards Inc. says it will no longer working with Loughlin and has stopped development of all productions involving her.

Loughlin is a big presence for Hallmark and its Crown Media Family Networks channels that include the flagship Hallmark Channel.

She's been a longtime star of the channel's Christmas movies and is also is in its "Garage Sale Mysteries" movies and the series "When Calls the Heart."

Loughlin's lawyer Perry Visconti did not immediately reply to an email requesting comment.

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11:45 a.m.

Legal experts say a lawsuit against universities in a college admissions scandal is unlikely to succeed in part because the plaintiffs who were named are currently students at Stanford University.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco says the two students were harmed because they were denied a fair opportunity for admission to schools to which they applied.

But legal experts say that's a hard argument to make since the two students, Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods, got into the elite Stanford University. The experts say they still expect additional lawsuits to be filed.

More than 50 people were charged earlier this week in the scandal.

Prosecutors have said wealthy parents paid to rig standardized scores and bribed sports coaches to get their children into elite universities

___

11:30 a.m.

The Hallmark Channel is known for holidays and shows with happy endings.

But the arrest of actress Lori Loughlin in a college admissions bribery scheme has created a challenge for the family-friendly cable channel. Loughlin's career and the channel are deeply intertwined.

She's among the so-called "Christmas queens" who topline a slate of popular holiday movies. Loughlin also stars in Hallmark's ongoing "Garage Sale Mysteries" movies and the series "When Calls the Heart."

Market strategist Laura Ries says it's an open question of whether audiences can separate Loughlin from the characters she plays.

Hallmark says it's "monitoring developments."

Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are among dozens of parents accused of securing their children's college admission with bribes and falsified exams. Their lawyer has declined comment.

___

11:10 a.m.

The University of Texas at Austin is defending itself against a lawsuit alleging it played a role in a wide-ranging college bribery scheme.

University officials issued a statement Wednesday saying they're "outraged" over the scheme and that any alleged wrongdoing at the school was carried out by "one UT employee."

The school was one of several named in a federal lawsuit filed in San Francisco saying students were denied a fair opportunity for admission. Others targeted in the suit include the University of Southern California and Yale University.

Federal prosecutors charged more than 50 people earlier this week in a scheme in which wealthy parents allegedly bribed sports coaches and other officials to get their children into elite colleges.

University of Texas officials say the allegations "do not reflect our admissions process."

___

8:35 a.m.

Two college students have filed a lawsuit against the University of Southern California, Yale University and other colleges where prosecutors say parents paid bribes to ensure their children's admission.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco and alleges the students were denied a fair opportunity for admission.

Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods say they were denied a fair opportunity to apply to Yale and USC.

They say the alleged scheme gave "unqualified students" admission to "highly selective universities."

The lawsuit also named the University of California, Los Angeles, Wake Forest, Georgetown University and others.

More than 50 people were charged earlier this week.

Prosecutors have said wealthy parents paid to rig standardized scores and bribed sports coaches to get their children into elite universities.

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