Stanford University’s former head sailing coach was sentenced last week to one day in prison for his role in the college admissions scandal that exposed corruption by wealthy parents trying to ensure spots for their children at elite universities. John Vandemoer, the first defendant sentenced in the scam, apologized in court to his family, friends, the sailing team, and the university.
“A big part of my coaching philosophy has always been it’s not the mistake that defines you but rather it’s what you do afterward,” he said outside federal court in Boston. “I’m holding true to those words now.”
Vandemoer’s sentence includes credit for already serving his one day in prison, a $10,000 fine, and two years of supervised release with six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring.
Prosecutors urged the judge to mandate a harsher sentence that would send a message to those still considering trying to game the college admissions system.
“If we fail to take these crimes seriously, if you give just a slap on the wrist instead of real punishment … we are short-changing not only the criminal justice system, but all those kids in high school who are working hard every day in an effort to improve their own lives and to get into the best school they can honestly and through hard work,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen.
U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel said that while she believed Vandemoer deserved punishment, an influx of support letters for the coach swayed her decision. She called him the “least culpable” of those charged in the massive case since he did not take any money for himself but rather directed the ill-gotten funds to Stanford’s sailing program.
Several other coaches have pleaded guilty, including former Yale University women’s soccer coach Rudy Meredith, who is scheduled for sentencing later this week. The court cases involving the coaches who have pleaded not guilty, as well as those of numerous parents who have been charged, will unfold over the coming months. The investigation remains active with the FBI, and the case is the largest of its kind ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice. —L.E.