The former head coach for women’s soccer at Yale University will spend five months behind bars for accepting $860,000 in bribes to falsely designate as recruits for her team.
One of the many figures prosecuted in the massive “Operation Varsity Blues,” 54-year-old Rudolph Meredith will also serve one year of supervised release. Senior U.S. District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf dealt Meredith a stiffer sentence than the one that the government recommended, which called for time served, supervised release and community service.
“The conduct for which Meredith is being sentenced was egregious: blatant fraud that corrupted the college admissions process at one of the nation’s most elite universities,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie A. Wright wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “As a coach, Meredith violated his duty to his employer and to his team, abusing his position – and the university’s trust – out of greed and self-interest. He enriched himself at the expense of Yale and its applicants and, in the process, played a part in undermining the integrity of the higher education system in this country.”
Prosecutors ultimately decided to push for leniency because Meredith quickly cooperated with the government’s investigation.
“At the same time, Meredith’s conduct since being approached by law enforcement has been nothing short of exemplary,” the sentencing memo states. “His acceptance of responsibility was immediate and has remained resolute throughout these proceedings. He fully owned his conduct and did not minimize his role in the scheme or attempt to shift blame to others. And he has expressed extreme remorse for what he did.”
Starting his tenure in 1995, Meredith spent more than two decades as Yale’s head coach for women’s soccer before his career came crashing down with his criminal prosecution. In 2015, prosecutors say, Meredith began conspiring with William “Rick” Singer in the false designation of purported recruits. Prosecutors say that he quickly turned on his erstwhile co-conspirator.
“Further, Meredith immediately agreed to cooperate proactively, and told agents about his arrangement with Singer and what he knew about Singer’s broader scheme,” the government’s memo states. “He made numerous consensually recorded calls with Singer, and also recorded an in-person meeting with Singer as directed by law enforcement, which resulted in the government’s approach of Singer and his subsequent agreement to also cooperate proactively with the government’s investigation.”
Meredith’s defense attorney Paul F. Thomas blamed his client’s misfortune on his association with Singer.
“Until he had the terrible misfortune of being introduced to William Singer, Rudy Meredith was a well-respected man,” Thomas wrote in the defense sentencing memo. “He came from humble beginnings and overcame significant obstacles to become the head women’s soccer coach at Yale University for over two decades. Rudy was raised by hard-working parents in Maryland. His father, a U.S. Army veteran, worked as a security guard, in cleaning services and then in the mail room for the NIH, from which he retired; his mother was a school bus driver.”
Describing Meredith’s upbringing in an African-American community, the lawyer said his client overcame systemic racism and a learning disability to obtain a master’s degree and become a respected and successful coach.
But Meredith’s mistake, his lawyer said, was giving into the “temptation” of “easy money.”
In addition to his incarceration, Meredith must pay a $19,000 fine and forfeiture of $557,774.
Since its exposure in 2019, the FBI’s “Operation Varsity Blue” marshaled more than 300 agents into the corruption of college admissions and sports. It also brought low powerful and prominent figures, both inside and outside the academic community. Those included Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, former TV executive Elisabeth Kimmel, private equity executive William “Bill” E. McGlashan, and many others.
[Image via WVCB screengrab]
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