Golfer Phil Mickelson used college consulting company accused in massive bribery scheme

    Phil Mickelson lines up a tee shot on the third hole during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill, Friday, March 8, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

    Golfer Phil Mickelson said he is among "thousands" who used a college consulting company accused of orchestrating a massive bribery scheme.

    But Mickelson, whose daughter attends Brown University in Providence, emphasized that his family is not involved in the scheme.

    "Our family, along with thousands of others, used Rick Singer’s company to guide us through the college admission process," he wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon. "We are shocked by the revelations of these events. Obviously, we were not part of this fraud, our kids would disown us if we ever tried to interfere."

    Federal prosecutors said Singer led a scheme in which wealthy parents bribed sports coaches and other officials to get their children into elite universities. While more than 50 people have been charged, the golfer has not been charged with a crime or implicated in the bribery scandal.

    "Brown University has had no contact with the FBI, DOJ or any other federal agency on the college admissions investigation made public this week. To our knowledge, none of the indicted families have children at Brown, and none of the indicted coaches have worked at Brown," Brown University noted in a statement.

    The University of Rhode Island has been vocal about the issue, as Gordon Ernst, who is URI’s tennis coach, is linked to the case.

    Ernst, a native of Cranston, faces a charge of racketeering conspiracy. URI has placed him on paid administrative leave.

    He was named head coach at URI on Aug. 14, 2018.

    “Prior to hiring Gordon Ernst in August 2018, the University conducted a criminal background check, which we do for all prospective employees. That background check showed no criminal history,” according to a statement URI issued on Thursday. “The University also reached out to his references and was able to reach three out of the four references he provided. The three gave him strong and positive recommendations. In addition, the URI athletic director personally called Georgetown’s athletic director in July 2018 and received a positive reference check from him. There were absolutely no indications whatsoever of any personnel concerns, violations of admissions policies or any other issues related to coach Ernst.”

    The indictment notes that Singer paid Ernst bribes totaling more than $2.7 million between 2012 and 2018.

    In exchange for the bribes, the indictment states that "Ernst designated at least 12 applicants as recruits for the Georgetown tennis team, including some who did not play tennis competitively, thereby facilitating their admission to Georgetown."

    Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were also charged.

    "These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege," U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said.

    (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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