College tennis coach says he didn’t know he would go to jail for accepting $100,000 admissions bribe – Crime Online
A former University of Texas tennis coach who spent six months in prison over a college admissions scandal involving others — including ‘Full House’ actress Lori Loughlin — revealed Thursday that he had been placed on suicide watch while incarcerated.
Michael Center told ‘Good Morning America’ he didn’t realize he was committing a crime in 2015 when he accepted a $100,000 bribe from venture capitalist Christopher Schaepe to get his son accepted into the University of Texas. The college said it had not identified any other students involved in the scheme, according to the Daily Mail.
“I’m not saying I was perfect but I never imagined I was committing a crime, going to jail, carrying a crime,” Center commented.
The former college tennis coach also claimed he was placed on suicide watch – a prison guard reportedly said he ‘didn’t want another Jeffrey Epstein’.
In February 2020, Center pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his involvement in the $25 million scheme, which prosecutors said involved athletic trainers at high-ranking colleges accepting kickbacks. -vin for students to be designated as athletes in order to facilitate their admission.
After accepting a $100,000 bribe, Center got Schaepe’s son into the University of Texas and established the man’s son as a tennis rookie even though he was a novice. In June 2015, Schaepe reportedly flew to Austin to give the Center a bag containing $60,000 in cash. Another $40,000 was reportedly given to the University of Texas as a donation.
Center told “Good Morning America” he only took the money to fund the college’s tennis program and to build additional courts.
“There were a lot of people asking me and others to fundraise and when that money came they were happy. No one complained,” he commented.
He also noted that the University of Texas had a “thorough vetting process” and that school officials never asked him about a letter of intent he signed for the son of Schaepe.
According to the Daily Mail, Center was unable to find work after his release from prison in October 2020.
“If I let this beat me, I’m not the person I want to be,” he told ‘Good Morning America.’ “I am not the person I want to be for my children. I have to show them that when you get knocked down, you get up.
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