URI tennis coach resigns after college admissions bribery case

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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The head coach of the University of Rhode Island (URI) women’s tennis team has resigned from his position after he was indicted earlier this month in connection with a massive college admissions bribery scandal.

Gordon Ernst was initially put on administrative by the University on March 12, after being indicted by the FBI. Ernst is charged with one count of racketeering conspiracy.

The charge stems from when Ernst, a Cranston native and Brown University graduate, was employed as the head coach of men’s and women’s tennis at Georgetown University.

Prosecutors said parents paid admissions consultant William Rick Singer to bribe coaches and administrators to label their children as recruited athletes, to alter test scores, and to have others take online classes to boost their children’s chances of getting into schools.

According to the indictment, Singer paid Ernst bribes – falsely labeled “consulting fees” – totaling more than $2.7 million.

In exchange, Ernst is accused of designating at least 12 applicants as recruits for the Georgetown tennis team, including some who did not play competitively, facilitating their admission into the school.

The school released a statement on Ernst’s resignation on its website Saturday:

Rhode Island women’s tennis head coach Gordon Ernst resigned from his position late Friday afternoon. Ernst was placed on administrative leave by the University on March 12, after he was indicted by the FBI for incidents that allegedly occurred while he was the head coach at Georgetown University. Ernst notified the University at 3:47 p.m. Friday that he would step down.

At least nine athletic coaches and dozens of parents were among those charged in the investigation dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues,” federal authorities said.

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