USC Women’s Crew Connected to Lori Loughlin College Scheme

lori loughlin crew

The head coach of University of Southern California’s women’s crew team at the time when federal authorities say actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannuli were paying $500,000 in bribes to get her daughters into USC by fraudulently presenting them as “rowing recruits,” has not been indicted. Zenon Babraj, who resigned in the summer of 2017, is not facing any charges.

Babraj stepped down from the school around the time Loughlin was working to get her second daughter into school, prosecutors said in federal court documents. Babraj is not accused of any criminal wrongdoing. But court documents unveil an alleged scheme led by college admissions adviser William “Rick ” Singer to get Loughlin’s two daughters, Olivia Jade Gianulli and Isabella Rose Giannuli, into USC as members of the crew team, despite never rowing competitively in their lives.

USC’s current crew coach, Josh Adam, was also not indicted. Several other college coaches, including some who worked at USC, were among the 50 people charged by federal prosecutors, according to court documents unsealed on March 12. You can read more about the case, “Operation Varsity Blues,” here.

Here’s what you need to know:

Babraj Resigned in Summer 2017, Around the Same Time Prosecutors Say Loughlin Was Trying to Get Her Second Daughter into College

Babraj officially resigned in May 2017, after 15 seasons of USC. This means that he was head coach at the time that Loughlin was allegedly getting her first daughter into school under the umbrella of “rowing recruits,” but that Babraj was not coach for the second daughter.

For the first daughter, Babraj is not mentioned at any point in the federal court documents. However, the documents allege that Loughlin’s older daughter was admitted to USC in 2016, with an unknown individual writing in an email that Loughlin’s daughter was admitted based upon “records [that] indicate that you have the potential to make a significant contribution to the intercollegiate athletic program . . . .”

Josh Adam Was Named USC Women’s Head Rowing Coach in June 2017

In June of 2017, Josh Adam was named the head coach of the USC women’s crew team. Adam has not been indicted in the scandal, nor is there any mention of his name in the federal court documents.

Per the federal court documents, Loughlin allegedly emailed back and forth with an unknown person to arrange false media of her daughter as a coxswain for a local rowing team, including pictures of her on an ergometer, and false information regarding the L.A. Marina Club rowing team.

What’s more, after a high school counselor for Loughlin’s children caught word of the girls being recruited for “rowing,” an exchange was had between two men regarding how to keep the process quiet, per the federal documents (neither of these men are Adams or Babraj):

“I just want to make sure that, you know, I don’t want the — the parents getting angry and creating any type of disturbance at the school. I just want to make sure those students . . . if questioned at the school that they respond in a[n] appropriate way that they are, walk-on candidates for their respective sports. They’re looking forward to trying out for the team and making the team when they get here. OK? That’s what I just want to make sure of. [Inaudible.] So I just don’t want anybody going into . . . [the GIANNULLIS’ daughter’ high school], you know, yelling at counselors. That’ll shut everything — that’ll shut everything down.”

A Number of Other USC Officials Have Been Indicted, Including the Senior Associate Director of Athletics

You can read the full list of people who have been indicted here, but here’s a summary of USC-related individuals who have been indicted from the college admissions scandal:

  • Laura Janke, 36, of North Hollywood, Calif., former assistant coach of women’s soccer at the University of Southern California; charged in an indictment with racketeering conspiracy
  • Ali Khoroshahin, 49, of Fountain Valley, Calif., former head coach of women’s soccer at the University of Southern California; charged in an indictment with racketeering conspiracy
  • Donna Heinel, 57, of Long Beach, Calif., the senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California; charged in an indictment with racketeering conspiracy
  • Jovan Vavic, 57, of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., former water polo coach at the University of Southern California; charged in an indictment with racketeering conspiracy

Some Parents Paid Up to $6.5 Million to Get Their Children into College

In a press conference about the scandal, Joseph Bonavolonta, who was the FBI special agent in charge of the investigation, reported that many of the parents indicted in the scandal paid anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to get their children into college.


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