The college admissions scam headlines have focused on Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman which is expected because of their celebrity status. But there is a tennis professional who played a central role in the deception pulled on the universities.
Mark Riddell was a Division I tennis player at Harvard in the early 2000’s. He barely was an ATP pro who made all of $892 in prize money. Riddell worked with William ‘Rick’ Singer, the owner of the Key Worldwide Foundation, the bogus company that took the payments from the rich parents to get their kids into the prestigious colleges.
Riddell was hired by Singer to take the college entrance exams for the “paid” students. The Harvard educated Riddell didn’t have the answers but he was skilled enough to miss the right amount of questions to not set off any alarms.
It also helped that Riddell was a private school counselor for Singer’s wealthy clients and was also director of college exam preparation at IMG Academy, the well-known private school for high school student-athletes. Besides tennis, the IMG Academy also taught baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and golf to elite athletes.
As expected, IMG has suspended Riddell pending further investigation and a statement was issued by the NCAA where Riddell, Singer, and Key Worldwide was not mentioned.
“The charges brought forth today are troubling and should be a concern for all of higher education,” the NCAA statement read. “We are looking into these allegations to determine the extent to which NCAA rules may have been violated.”
Through his attorney, Riddell has released his own statement, “I will always regret the choices I made, but I do also believe that the more than 1,000 students I legitimately counseled, inspired and helped reach their goals will paint a more complete picture of the person I truly am,” the statement read. He said he accepts “full responsibility for what I have done.”
Riddell is to appear in federal court in Boston in mid- April. The celebrities involved are probably going to get fines and sentences they can handle. Unfortunately, Riddell will not be able to return to his previous employment as a school counselor. Maybe Mark Riddell will have to go back into tennis, but then again, his game would have to improve a long way to make a living.