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UW Campus admissions policy

UW-Madison said it will review its admissions policies in the wake of a national college admissions scandal that has rocked institutions in six other states.

UW-Madison is reviewing its admissions policies in the wake of a national college admissions scandal that has implicated business titans, celebrities and university athletic coaches in six other states.

“Although we have confidence in our systems and our staff, whenever an issue such as this one arises, we take the opportunity to review and identify areas where we might improve,” UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas said in a statement.

Court records unsealed Tuesday revealed an elaborate scheme in which wealthy parents bought their children spots at elite institutions, such as Stanford and Yale, through the founder of a college preparatory business. The leader, William Singer, accepted about $25 million from 2011 through February to help students cheat on standardized tests.

Singer also paid coaches who accepted students onto their teams despite lacking the athletic ability needed to play. The ruse went undetected because the coaches supervised lower-profile sports teams, such as sailing and tennis, where less attention is paid to student recruits than football and basketball.

At Yale, a student who didn’t play soccer became a soccer recruit after her parents paid $1.2 million. At the University of Southern California, parents wired $200,000 into a special account and suddenly their child without rowing experience got a spot on the crew team.

Federal prosecutors did not charge students or universities with wrongdoing. Prosecutors have also said there could be more indictments to come.

UW-Madison employs a comprehensive admissions process, Lucas said, where “every student admitted to the university is judged to be capable of success.”

The university received nearly 43,000 applications for the freshman class that arrived in the fall. About 52 percent were accepted, according to UW-Madison data.

The university declined to say whether there have been any instances since 2011 in which students won a spot on a sports team and attended UW-Madison but did not compete.

When asked for UW-Madison’s policy when coaches identify applicants worthy of a spot on a sports team and whether admissions officers verify applicants’ athletic abilities, Lucas did not answer. He did, however, say in a statement that the university has strong policies and practices around the recruiting of student athletes and officials work consistently to maintain a culture of ethics and compliance.

UW-Madison conducting reviews in response to crises at other universities is not unusual or an indication of a problem.

Michigan State University’s handling of sexual assault allegations made against former Spartans athletics and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar led UW Athletics Director Barry Alvarez to order a review of the department’s safety and security policies.

The audit, which was completed in the fall, found no major problems.

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Kelly Meyerhofer covers higher education for the Wisconsin State Journal. She can be reached at 608-252-6106 or kmeyerhofer@madison.com.