Federal investigators are examining former Southern California athletics director Pat Haden's potential role in the college-admissions scandal that has rocked several national universities, including USC, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Specifically, prosecutors are investigating any possible ties between Haden, USC's athletics director from 2010-16, and Rick Singer, the alleged organizer of a scheme that fraudulently altered test scores and inflated the athletic achievements of college applicants and funneled bribes to men's and women's coaches at schools such as Yale, Texas, USC and UCLA.
Citing a person close to the investigation, the Journal reports that Haden has only recently become a person of interest to investigators and has not been charged for any part in the scandal.
Former Southern California Trojans athletic director Pat Haden in a 2015 photo. (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)
In a statement provided to the Journal through his son-in-law, Haden said, "Like many people, I was introduced to Mr. Singer several years ago by a friend. I was unaware of his illegal activities and had no ongoing relationship with him whatsoever."
However, Haden did introduce Singer to former USC senior associate athletics director Donna Heinel, and said that due to Singer's connections would be "someone Ms. Heinel should work with," the Journal reports, citing another person familiar with the matter.
According to prosecutors, Singer's clients paid more than $1.3 million between 2014 and 2018 to USC accounts under Heinel's control between 2014 and 2018. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy.
Singer allegedly accepted $25 million in bribes from wealthy parents, including several celebrities such as actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, between 2011 and 2018. He has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud and obstruction of justice.
Four members of the Trojans' athletics department were implicated in the scandal and are no longer associated with the university: Heinel, women's soccer coaches Ali Khosroshahin and Laura Janke, and men's and women's water polo coach Jovan Vavic.
In court documents filed earlier this week, Khosroshahin pleaded guilty to racketeering and entered into an agreement to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
USC said in a statement in response to the report that it is still conducting an internal investigation and that the university “will continue to cooperate fully with all law enforcement and regulatory investigations. Ensuring the integrity of the admissions process remains a top priority of university leadership.”
Haden also was a star quarterback for the Trojans and played in the NFL.
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