John Vandemoer, Stanford Sailing Coach: 5 Fast Facts to Know

john vandemoer

John Vandemoer is the Stanford head sailing coach. He has been indicted as one of many collegiate coaches involved in massive college admissions scandal. Via a CNN update on March 12, Stanford fired Vandemoer, and Vandemoer pled guilty to his charges in Boston federal court, claiming that he spent the money he received on materials for the sailing team.

Per the federal court documents, Vandemoer allegedly conducted in a “side door deal” with an individual that was hidden from Stanford, in which he was given $160,000 for promising a spot for a “recruit” in the coming year.

Per the court documents, Vandemoer was the first to agree to plead guilty, in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, to a charge of racketeering conspiracy.

You can read a full list of the charges and indictments here. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Vandemoer Was Allegedly Going to Be Paid Upwards of $500,000 for a Single ‘Saved Spot’ on His Team

Per the federal court documents, an unnamed individual (the virtual middle man who worked with individuals and coaches) had this conversation with a person named John Wilson, who first tried to bribe Jovan Vavic, per the documents, with a slot for his son.

Then, Wilson followed up with the same individuals to see if he could get his daughters into Stanford. Per the federal court documents, this is the conversation that transpired:

CW-1 So I had a conversation with the Stanford sailing coach and, so I just gave the Stanford sailing coach [$]160,000 for his program and while we were having that conversation I said, “Hey, I’m hoping that this 160 that I’m helping you with helps secure a spot for next year. Can I be guaranteed a spot for next year?” And he said, “Yes.”

WILSON [inaudible] all it takes?

CW-1 So– no, no, no, no. That’s not all it takes.

WILSON Okay. (Laughter)

CW-1 This is not TJ Maxx or Marshall’s or something like that. So–

WILSON Right. CW-1 So essentially if you’re– I want you to have first dibs, like I told you. So if you want I can provide John Vandemoer– which I’m going to essentially send John directly the check, to the coach. I can send him your [$]500,000 that you wired into my account to secure the spot for one of your girls. I asked him for a second spot in sailing and he said he can’t do that because he has to actually recruit some real sailors so that Stanford doesn’t–

WILSON (Laughter)

CW-1 –catch on.


CW-1 Okay. So–

WILSON Yeah, no. He’s got to–

CW-1 –Stanford–

WILSON — actually have some sailors. Yeah.

CW-1 Yeah. So that Stanford doesn’t catch on to what he’s doing.


CW-1 So– and I– that doesn’t mean I’m not going to pursue other Stanford coaches, and to be frank with you, it doesn’t matter if it’s one of the girls who’s not a sailor. I can still put her as a sailor. Or, obviously, the one that is, I can– I’ll mark that she’s a sailor because she is, but not at the level in which she can sail at Stanford.

Per the documents, the daughter eventually ended up at Harvard, after Wilson wired two payments of $500,000 to go to an unnamed senior administrator.

2. Vandemoer Has Pled Guilty to Charges of Racketeering

Per the court documents, Vandemoer is expected to plead guilty on March 12 at 3 PM, eastern time, in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, to a charge of Information with racketeering conspiracy.

Here is a list of the other people who have been charged with a number of crimes, including racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. As of March 12, 2 PM, no other people have pleaded guilty to their charges.

3. Vandemoer, 41, Has Coached at Stanford for 11 Years

Vandemoer was entering his 11th year coming into the 2018-19 sailing season, per his Stanford bio. He has led his team to significant success, winning 29 of 30 PCCSC spring conference championships since he started coaching.

You can read his full coaching bio on Stanford’s site, but here’s a snippet:

In 2017-18, Stanford finished sixth in the Fowle Trophy standings for the second straight year after fifth-place finishes at the coed and team race national championships. In addition, for the ninth straight season, the Cardinal swept the three spring conference championships.

In 2016-17, Vandemoer guided Stanford a sixth-place finish in the Fowle Trophy while winning all three PCCSC spring championships. Stanford also won both PCCSC singlehanded championships, sending four individuals to the ICSA singlehanded championships.

4. Vandemoer Graduated from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in 2000

Per his Stanford bio, Vandemoer graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2000. He was a member of the sailing team, and graduated with a degree in geochemistry.

5. Other Coaches Indicted in the Scandal Include USC Water Polo Coach Jovan Vavic & Multiple Soccer Coaches

Other coaches indicted in the college admissions scandal include USC women and men’s water polo coach, Jovan Vavic, and a number of former soccer coaches.


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