Former UT tennis coach Michael Center plans to plead guilty in college admissions case

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

Former UT men’s tennis coach Michael Center will plead guilty by April 30 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

As part of a nationwide scheme designed to fraudulently admit wealthy students into renowned universities, the DOJ accused Center of accepting approximately $100,000 from William “Rick” Singer as a bribe to facilitate the admission of a student with little tennis experience as a men’s tennis recruit. 

“The university learned today of the guilty plea,” University spokesperson J.B. Bird said in an email. “We continue to cooperate with federal law enforcement. Our highest priority is to complete our internal review to determine whether UT has the necessary rules and procedures in place to prevent someone from committing violations in the future.”

 

Thirteen of the parents who were charged by the DOJ, including actress Felicity Huffman, will also plead guilty to using bribery and other forms of fraud to facilitate their children’s admission to selective colleges and universities.

The maximum sentence for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud is 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain from the fraud. The plea hearing for Center and the other parents has not yet been scheduled.

The U.S. Attorney recommended Center’s plea deal include “incarceration at the low end of the guidelines sentencing range,” a financial penalty, a year of supervised release, a mandatory special assessment of $100 and forfeiture of $60,000 — the amount Center received from the fraud.

The sentence will be decided by a federal district court judge and based on the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. According to the plea deal, Center has agreed to not appeal or challenge his sentence.