Lauren Isackson was an equestrian and proud of it. But she was not a soccer player. But after her parents allegedly paid a $250,000 bribe, in Facebook stock, she was soon enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles and on the UCLA Bruin’s Women’s Soccer team.
On March 12, federal prosecutors announced the indictments and arrests of 50 people alleged to be part of a conspiracy to influence admissions decisions for otherwise unqualified college applicants. It’s alleged a number of parents paid more than $25 million to William “Rick” Singer, a college admissions adviser and cheating and bribery scheme leader. Singer has been cooperating with the feds since September of 2018.
Lauren Isackson’s parents Davina and Bruce Isackson were arrested and charged in the federal case dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, a conspiracy where children of the very wealthy were admitted to top-tier universities sans either good-enough grades or elite athlete resumes; they were fabricated and, with the paid-for help from coaches, were admitted, the government says.
Read the full complaint here.
Lauren Isackson’s first choice was the University of Southern California but the Isacksons and alleged co-conspirators botched their planned admissions scam so were forced to try UCLA. There they had a willing participant in Jorge Salcedo, UCLA’s now former men’s soccer coach, also charged.
Isackson was admitted to the university and added to the team roster even though she did not play soccer. And based on her resume, was also named team manager.
Her fake athletic profile is on the UCLA website as of when this story was published. And it’s reported she is still enrolled at the university.
There’s lots to unpack. Here’s what you need to know:
1. The UCLA Women’s Soccer Team Includes International Elite Student Athletes. Isackson Was Added Without Any Soccer Experience
In 2017, Isackson was named a member of the UCLA women’s soccer program. That year, head coach Amanda Cromwell noted, some of the best female student soccer players in the nation (and internationally with a Canadian named to the team) had been recruited. Young in age but high-profile, experienced elite athletes with superlative athletic profiles were sought out to join the UCLA program.
Meanwhile, Isackson’s bio says she was an honorable mention as a 2014 all-league selection for the West Bay Athletic League and was “team captain for Woodside Soccer Club from 2012 to 16 and was “selected Team MVP in 2015.”
But the LA Times reported the soccer club never heard of her.
Salcedo allegedly submitted a fake soccer profile on Isackson’s behalf. He was indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit racketeering.
Isackson was admitted to UCLA and was required to play for at least a year, the indictment says. Her jersey was “No. 41 jersey in 2017 on a team of all-stars and pros-in-waiting. Every other player on the roster was assigned a jersey number between 00 and 28.”
The recruited freshman class was “ranked No. 2 in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer.”
“UCLA has had some very special, talented classes through the years, and when all is said and done, this class may be one of the best,” was quoted as saying in a press release praising the highly skilled recruits.
2. Isackson’s ‘Greatest Athletic Thrill’ Was Achieved in a Saddle. She Was Featured in Singer’s ‘Key Athletic Club’ With Her Fake Soccer Credentials
Isackson is an equestrian.
Her UCLA women’s soccer team bio says the highlight of her athletic career came on the back of a horse. She was named champion of her riding division, two years in a row.
Isackson was featured in Singer’s Key Athletics Club blog.
“Whether on the track or on the field, Lauren is known for her speed. She is captain of her local club soccer team, and a solid middle-distance runner for Priory.”
The blog post says she was a star on the track as she “performed” for Singer’s Key Club.
3. A Gamma Phi Beta, Isackson Didn’t Play Soccer for UCLA But Was Instead Team Manager
For nearly two years, according to her LinkedIn, Isackson was the UCLA Women’s Soccer team manager.
From August 2016 to April 2018, she says she handled “team administrative duties, including coordinating travel and served as on-site support for home games and practices.”
Isackson says she is a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority.
4. Isackson’s Parents Made The Bribe Payment in $250,000 Worth of Facebook Stock For Lauren’s Admission But They Also Allegedly Got Their Other Daughter in on as a Rowing Recruit
Charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and ‘honest services fraud,’ Davina and Bruce Isackson allegedly paid
The conspiracy between the Isackson’s and Singer is reported to have begun in 2015. Lauren wanted to go to the University of Southern California but the conspirators botched the application process; they inadvertently sent her falsified athletic history directly to regular admissions, the indictment documents show. So they switched to UCLA. Prosecutors say the fake athlete profile was handed off to a former USC women’s soccer coach, who handed it off to Salcedo who forwarded her high school transcripts and SAT scores to the UCLA women’s soccer coach, who is not named in the documents. She was accepted to the university as a “recruited” athlete.
And the Isackson’s “donated” more than 2,100 shares of Facebook stock worth around $250,000, according to the probable cause affidavits found in the indictment.
Then Singer divvied the money up with the coaches.
When Singer started working with the feds in the fall of 2018, he was wired and met with Bruce Isackson to get him on tape implicating himself. Which he did.
The Isackson’s also allegedly did the same for their daughter Audrey, also an equestrian, as a rowing recruit.
5. Lauren Isackson’s Resume, if Accurate, Shows Her Volunteer & Paid Work Experience. She’s Interested in Kinesiology
Lauren Isackson’s LinkedIn, which as of the time this story was published was still online, says she’s a “UCLA student with interests in sociology, psychology, communications and kinesiology.”
Isackson is an “educator” at Lulumon, and has been since July of 2018, and simultaneously apparently, is an intern with fashion company The Wall Group. Her other work experience includes acting as an assistant to a “kinesiology professor.” She’s worked with kids as a volunteer.
She says she’s a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority since January of 2018 and serves as the “assistant social chair” and “assistant sisterhood chair.”