Father of University of Texas student involved in college admissions scandal removed from firm

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: A source in this story agreed to speak to The Texan on terms of anonymity. This story has been updated to reflect clarifications from the anonymous source regarding when Schaepe was put in contact with the UT men's basketball and tennis coach and the "letter of intent" which the complaint says was signed by the student and father.

Christopher James Schaepe admitted to his firm that he is the father of the UT student who was referred to in the college admissions scandal complaint, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A spokesperson for Lightspeed Venture Partners, a venture capital firm which boasts of having $6 billion invested in startups, told the Times they cut ties with Schaepe after partners became worried about a “personal matter” which could “interfere with firm operations” this week.

In a 269-page indictment and multiple complaints released by the Department of Justice on March 12, federal investigators named more than 50 people as part of a nationwide scheme designed to fraudulently admit wealthy students into renowned universities. Now-fired UT men’s tennis coach Michael Center was accused of accepting approximately $100,000 from William “Rick” Singer as a bribe to admit a student with little tennis experience as a men’s tennis recruit. 

Schaepe is denying any wrongdoing and was “horrified” about Singer’s indictment, according to a source with knowledge of the family’s situation who spoke to The Daily Texan on the condition of anonymity. However, the anonymous source said the father and student in the complaint are Schaepe and his son.

The Texan’s anonymous source said Singer’s college advising services were recommended to the Schaepe family, who wanted to find colleges where their son could be the manager of a basketball or football team. Schaepe’s son did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Facebook Messenger and through email.

 
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“The Schaepe’s were deeply disturbed that the person they had trusted to guide them through the college application process was engaged in inappropriate acts,” said Ellen Davis, Schaepe’s spokesperson. “Like countless other families, they believed that (Singer’s) services and his foundation were all aboveboard, and were shocked by his deception.”

Singer introduced Schaepe, who has not been charged, to former UT men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes who the source said could arrange for Schaepe’s son to be the men’s basketball team manager. The source said Singer subsequently put Schaepe in touch with a second person who worked with the school's tennis team. Barnes left the University in March 2015.

Despite the student only playing tennis during his freshman year of high school, the student was added to the UT tennis team roster as a recruited athlete after he and his father signed a letter of intent to play tennis in April 2015, investigators say in the complaint. The source said that the letter of intent was only to join the team, not to play tennis.

The anonymous source said Schaepe’s son was invited to join the basketball team after the UT Summer Basketball camp in April 2015, which led to him leaving the tennis team. Schaepe’s son was a UT’s men’s basketball manager during the 2015-2016 season, according to the 2015-16 Texas Basketball Fact Book. 

“I got him in the school, you know, and then he withdrew from the team,” Center said in a wiretapped call in October 2018, according to the complaint against him.

Before it was deleted, Singer’s website — The Key Worldwide — featured testimonials from students and parents thanking Singer for helping them get admitted into various colleges, such as UT and USC. One of the posts from April 2015 includes a photo of Schaepe’s son posing with Kevin Durant during the summer basketball camp. 

“I wanted to thank you personally for all your help in getting me into the University of Texas in Austin, and for helping me secure a managers position with the UT basketball team,” said a now-deleted post signed with Schaepe’s son’s name on the website.

 

The anonymous source told the Texan that the parents sent the photo to Singer, but he made up the testimonial.

The criminal complaint also alleges the UT student’s father made a donation of stock valued at $455,194 to The Key Worldwide Foundation — which is owned by Singer — in February 2015. In April and May 2015, investigators say the father also made payments of stock valued at $102,925 and $73,445 to the foundation. 

The anonymous source said Schaepe and his family have a track record of philanthropy and donated to Singer because they believed it would support community programs benefiting children.

University spokesperson J.B. Bird said Schaepe co-established a scholarship for undergraduate students at the Moody College of Communication with financial need in August 2017. According to the 2016-2017 UT annual financial report, the Chiu-Schaepe Family Endowed Scholarship was endowed with more than $100,000. The scholarship awarded $5,000 to two students in 2018.

Bird said Schaepe co-established the Chiu-Schaepe Family Endowed Scholarship in men’s basketball to support the cost of a scholarship for a member of the men’s basketball team. According to the 2016-2017 UT annual financial report, this scholarship was also endowed with more than $100,000. 

Schaepe’s son was listed in the UT directory as a communications and leadership senior in the Moody College of Communication on March 13, the day after the federal indictment was released. The student was removed from the directory shortly after the father, the student and the University were contacted by the Texan for comment on March 13.

Bird said the university may remove a student from the directory in the interest of the student, but said he was not legally allowed to discuss any actions or decisions involving the student under FERPA.