Georgetown University student paper says school did not inform of probe into tennis coach ensnared in admissions scandal

"The Georgetown Voice," a student newspaper, said it plans to keep reporting.

March 18, 2019, 10:14 AM

Georgetown University, one of the eight universities involved in the largest college admissions scandal in history, conducted an internal investigation into the school’s former tennis coach, who was accused of accepting bribes from parents, but students weren’t informed of the probe until news broke of the allegations, according to student newspaper "The Georgetown Voice."

"Students were actually shocked to find out the university had actually conducted an internal investigation starting in December 2017 into the tennis coach’s recruiting tactics and why there had been certain kids recruited for tennis but never played on the team," The Voice’s editor-in-chief Margaret Gach told ABC News in an interview on "The Briefing Room" Wednesday.

Gordon Ernst, who allegedly accepted a monetary bribe from Manuel Henriquez, the now former CEO of venture debt firm Hercules Capital, and his wife Elizabeth, to recruit the couple's eldest daughter on Georgetown’s tennis team to secure her admission.

PHOTO: This combination of images shows college campuses, clockwise from top left, Georgetown University, Stanford University, Yale University, and University of California, Los Angeles.
This combination of images shows college campuses, clockwise from top left, Georgetown University, Stanford University, Yale University, and University of California, Los Angeles.

According to Ernst’s racketeering conspiracy indictment charges at the U.S. District Court of the District of Massachusetts, he accepted more than $2.7 million in bribes from 2012 to 2018.

"In exchange for the bribes, Ernst designated at least 12 applicants as recruits for the Georgetown tennis team, including some who did not play tennis competitively, thereby facilitating their admission to Georgetown," according to his indictment.

According to Georgetown University’s public statement on the Department of Justice investigation, Ernst had not been the coach for their men and women’s tennis teams since 2017 "following an internal investigation that found he had violated University rules concerning admissions."

That piece of the statement left some students feeling a little puzzled.

"In the press release, they had sent out announcing ... the tennis coach’s resignation, they didn’t make one mention of this internal investigation and we haven’t gotten any clarification on if they told the next school he went to, the University of Rhode Island either," Gach said.

According to Georgetown spokesman Matt Hill, the admissions office "discovered irregularities" in athletic credentials for some students recruited to play on the tennis team.

"Mr. Ernst was put on leave in Dec. 2017, we launched an internal investigation, and he was later asked to resign in 2018," Hill told ABC News in an email statement. "The University was not aware of any alleged criminal activity or acceptance of bribes by Mr. Ernst until it was later contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, with whom we fully cooperated in its investigation."

The university did not clarify whether they notified students of the internal investigation when the school announced his resignation in a public statement.

Attorneys for Ernst did not immediately respond to request for comment.

According to the Associated Press, during a court hearing in Maryland on Tuesday, Ernst’s attorney, Michael CitaraManis, said his client was not a flight risk. He was freed on a $200,000 bond.

Ernst, his attorney said, has an upcoming job interview in Toronto but, "I don’t know the impact from these proceedings."

Gach told ABC News the reporting by "The Georgetown Voice" is far from done and they plan to dive deeper into the matter.

"Right now our big question is what were the results of that internal investigation into Gordon Ernst back in 2017-2018 and why wasn’t the student body notified when it originally happened," Gach told ABC News. "Why are we just finding out now?"