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Rigged Justice: How the College Admissions Scandal Ruined an Innocent Man's Life

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The former Stanford University sailing coach sentenced in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal tells the riveting true story of how he was drawn unwittingly into a web of deceit in this eye-opening memoir that offers a damning portrait of modern college administration and the ways in which justice and fairness do not always intersect.  For eleven years, John Vandemo The former Stanford University sailing coach sentenced in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal tells the riveting true story of how he was drawn unwittingly into a web of deceit in this eye-opening memoir that offers a damning portrait of modern college administration and the ways in which justice and fairness do not always intersect.  For eleven years, John Vandemoer ran the prestigious Stanford University sailing program in which he coached Olympians and All-Americans. Though the hours were long and the program struggled for funding, sailing gave Vandemoer’s life shape and meaning. But early one morning, everything came crashing down when Vandemoer, still in his pajamas, opened the door to find FBI and IRS agents on his doorstep. He quickly learned that a recruiter named Rick Singer had used him as a stooge in a sophisticated scheme designed to take advantage of college coaches and play to the endless appetite for university fundraising—and wealthy parents looking for an edge for their college-bound children. Vandemoer was summarily fired, kicked out of campus housing, his children booted from campus daycare. The next year of his life was a Kafkaesque hellscape, and though he was an innocent man who never received a dime was the first person to be convicted in what became known as the Varsity Blues scandal. A true story that reads like a suspense novel, Rigged Justice lays bare how a sophisticated scheme could take advantage of college coaches and university money—and how one family became collateral damage in a large government investigation that dominated national headlines.


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The former Stanford University sailing coach sentenced in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal tells the riveting true story of how he was drawn unwittingly into a web of deceit in this eye-opening memoir that offers a damning portrait of modern college administration and the ways in which justice and fairness do not always intersect.  For eleven years, John Vandemo The former Stanford University sailing coach sentenced in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal tells the riveting true story of how he was drawn unwittingly into a web of deceit in this eye-opening memoir that offers a damning portrait of modern college administration and the ways in which justice and fairness do not always intersect.  For eleven years, John Vandemoer ran the prestigious Stanford University sailing program in which he coached Olympians and All-Americans. Though the hours were long and the program struggled for funding, sailing gave Vandemoer’s life shape and meaning. But early one morning, everything came crashing down when Vandemoer, still in his pajamas, opened the door to find FBI and IRS agents on his doorstep. He quickly learned that a recruiter named Rick Singer had used him as a stooge in a sophisticated scheme designed to take advantage of college coaches and play to the endless appetite for university fundraising—and wealthy parents looking for an edge for their college-bound children. Vandemoer was summarily fired, kicked out of campus housing, his children booted from campus daycare. The next year of his life was a Kafkaesque hellscape, and though he was an innocent man who never received a dime was the first person to be convicted in what became known as the Varsity Blues scandal. A true story that reads like a suspense novel, Rigged Justice lays bare how a sophisticated scheme could take advantage of college coaches and university money—and how one family became collateral damage in a large government investigation that dominated national headlines.

30 review for Rigged Justice: How the College Admissions Scandal Ruined an Innocent Man's Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This is an honest, heartbreaking account by John Vandemoer, of his role in the college admissions scandal. Mr. Vandemoer is to be commended for his authentic voice. Without self pity Vandermoer looks back on his own life and owns his own naivete. He obviously loves sailing and loved coaching. Yet being criticized by some sailors ( in end-of-year evaluations) on the Stanford sailing team clearly contributed to some insecurity which was compounded by an Athletic Director who didn’t appear to respe This is an honest, heartbreaking account by John Vandemoer, of his role in the college admissions scandal. Mr. Vandemoer is to be commended for his authentic voice. Without self pity Vandermoer looks back on his own life and owns his own naivete. He obviously loves sailing and loved coaching. Yet being criticized by some sailors ( in end-of-year evaluations) on the Stanford sailing team clearly contributed to some insecurity which was compounded by an Athletic Director who didn’t appear to respect him, or even remember his name. Feeling pressure to fundraise, led to meeting Rick Singer who was a master spinner, deceiving many more sophisticated high rollers than John. Of course we can all say “ he should have known better” but that is what a mistake is. A mistake. And there have been lessons learned. Hopefully he can move on with his life. It sounds like he has a wonderful family and many friends. The role of “big donors” in gaining a student’s acceptance at certain colleges and universities has finally come under scrutiny with this FBI investigation., However, the role of the IRS and the FBI agents, which was uncomfortable to read, also warrants scrutiny. This is a must-read for anyone contemplating a career in coaching.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Rigged Justice by John Vandemoer is a very interesting account of the life of a Stanford sailing coach caught in the middle of the Varsity Blues college scandal. The book takes you through the first visit with the FBI and his subsequent guilty plea. This reads like a frightening suspense novel. Throughout reading this book I would have trusted everyone involved and found myself in a similar situation. Vandemoer lost his house, job and spent time on house arrest. Much of the evidence and the test Rigged Justice by John Vandemoer is a very interesting account of the life of a Stanford sailing coach caught in the middle of the Varsity Blues college scandal. The book takes you through the first visit with the FBI and his subsequent guilty plea. This reads like a frightening suspense novel. Throughout reading this book I would have trusted everyone involved and found myself in a similar situation. Vandemoer lost his house, job and spent time on house arrest. Much of the evidence and the testimony of Rick Singer paint a picture of questionable tactics and many lives disrupted.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    An engaging tale of an innocent man caught in an academic admissions scandal. Duped by a con man, he was accused of taking bribes to get students admitted into Stanford whether they sailed for the school's team or not. The book revolves around varsity sailing clubs, unsolicited donations, and then the trial and subsequent sentencing. You'll come to realize that sometimes a person's career takes a serious jog through no faults of their own. It's a cautionary tale of what Vandemoer did and didn't do An engaging tale of an innocent man caught in an academic admissions scandal. Duped by a con man, he was accused of taking bribes to get students admitted into Stanford whether they sailed for the school's team or not. The book revolves around varsity sailing clubs, unsolicited donations, and then the trial and subsequent sentencing. You'll come to realize that sometimes a person's career takes a serious jog through no faults of their own. It's a cautionary tale of what Vandemoer did and didn't do, how he got caught up in a crime he had no idea about, and that while innocent, he paid the price of losing his job and pride. Thanks to the BookLoft of German Village (Columbus, OH) http://www.bookloft.com for an ARC to read and review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael O'Connor

    Must read for anyone involved in fundraising and athletics. Great read about an important story. John lays it.all out in this riveting account of the Varsity Blues scandal. Thanks for.bringing it to.light.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Hayhoe

    This is a page turner. I learned a lot about the Varsity Blues Admission Scandal. Very interesting that the one person John Vandemoer, who did not receive any money for himself, who did not even know he was committing a crime, lost everything, his job, his house, his reputation yet the man who orchestrated the crimes, Rick Singer, is still free as a bird. I don’t know when he will be sentenced but because he admitted the crime, and turned state’s evidence he won’t be sentenced until all the peop This is a page turner. I learned a lot about the Varsity Blues Admission Scandal. Very interesting that the one person John Vandemoer, who did not receive any money for himself, who did not even know he was committing a crime, lost everything, his job, his house, his reputation yet the man who orchestrated the crimes, Rick Singer, is still free as a bird. I don’t know when he will be sentenced but because he admitted the crime, and turned state’s evidence he won’t be sentenced until all the people who are charged have been convicted. How can this be? Does he have time to put all his money in an off shore account? I have a very different opinion about this case since I read this book. I’m not happy about the “justice “ system in our country. I think the people who gave Rick Singer the money for their children to be admitted to a college were wrong, especially the ones who paid for their children to have someone else take the exam for them. But colleges have been taking endowments for forever, right? When does that stop?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sally Bruggeman

    Read This!! This well written book took me on an emotional roller coaster and gave me insight into the admissions scandal. The author is a great guy. Everyone should read this eye-opening story.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve Eubanks

    A quick and engrossing read that, once more, shows what everyone should know by now: The FBI and Department of Justice are rotten root to stem and should be razed. There are no good apples, no men of “unimpeachable integrity.” The best are functionaries and PR whores. The worst are crooks, morally vacuous social climbers who use the full force and weight of the government for social climbing, innocents be damned. This is a look inside Operation Varsity Blues. Who comes up with these names, by th A quick and engrossing read that, once more, shows what everyone should know by now: The FBI and Department of Justice are rotten root to stem and should be razed. There are no good apples, no men of “unimpeachable integrity.” The best are functionaries and PR whores. The worst are crooks, morally vacuous social climbers who use the full force and weight of the government for social climbing, innocents be damned. This is a look inside Operation Varsity Blues. Who comes up with these names, by the way? The feds took the biggest crook involved, flipped him, and preened like barnyard peacocks when the nailed parents for paying to get their kids into good schools. It should be noted that none of the kids flunked out. Getting in, it turns out, is its own reward. Vandermoer was naive beyond belief. But the feds badgered their scoundrel of a witness to lie to set him up, and then threatened to lump him in with real crooks in a RICO indictment if he didn’t plead guilty, in other words, break him through the process, justice, schmustice, all so they could include Stanford in the list of schools involved. If you’re ever called to be on a federal jury, acquit. Assume the fed prosecutor is corrupt and the agents are lying. That’s probably right. And there’s no other way. .

  8. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    Shocking read. Hopefully, the eyes of righteousness look down on collegiate athletics and admissions. No one must go through what John Vandemoer went though. Totally disgusting. A black mark on Americanism and the collegiate infrastructure.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Bertelson

    Wowza. Gut wrenching and heart rending. Not the usual Varsity Blues story. Mr Vandemoer was scapegoated and failed by the justice system. As well as by Stanford. Disturbing on many levels. A well written and highly personal account.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Rigged Justice is a true page-turner that gives the reader a window into the college admissions process, the federal justice system, and the painful lived experience about how a man's life (and that of his family) was thoroughly upended. Rigged Justice is a true page-turner that gives the reader a window into the college admissions process, the federal justice system, and the painful lived experience about how a man's life (and that of his family) was thoroughly upended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth Crook

    A look into how colleges handle admissions...donations/development!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    It is just unfortunate that John Vandemoer got caught up in this college admission scandal. However diligent he would've acted with the donations and his contacts with Rick Singer, I feel that without the proper support from his employer, and the insistent pursue of the authority, he still wouldn't have gotten away with this. As a fellow sailor, I find his background story of how he became a sailor and then eventually progressed to being a college coach interesting. It is just unfortunate that John Vandemoer got caught up in this college admission scandal. However diligent he would've acted with the donations and his contacts with Rick Singer, I feel that without the proper support from his employer, and the insistent pursue of the authority, he still wouldn't have gotten away with this. As a fellow sailor, I find his background story of how he became a sailor and then eventually progressed to being a college coach interesting.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Levinson

  14. 4 out of 5

    Janet Forest

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katie Ward

  16. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Houck

  18. 5 out of 5

    Biff

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cristen Schifino

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ena

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marquette

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steph

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan Neuwirth

  25. 4 out of 5

    Richard Lister

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eric R.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julian Bailey

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Smith

  29. 5 out of 5

    Janet Jones

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dana

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