Gordon Ernst, who was a personal tennis instructor for former first lady Michelle Obama, as well as daughters Malia and Sasha, was one of the dozens of individuals charged in the massive federal indictment that exposed the fraudulent college admissions scam as felony racketeering.
The indictment does not suggest that the Obamas were involved in the scheme in any way.
Obama family tennis instructor indicted
Ernst was the head coach for both the men’s and women’s tennis teams at Georgetown University at the time of the alleged crimes.
According to pages 13 and 14 of the federal indictment, Ernst allegedly received more than $2.7 million in bribes disguised as “consulting fees” between 2012 and 2018 from the ringleader of the scam, William Rick Singer.
Singer operated a fraudulent charity as cover for the scheme, in which he bribed athletic coaches and standardized test monitors on behalf of wealthy parents in order to gain their children admission to elite colleges and universities like Georgetown, Yale, and Stanford.
The bribes received by Ernst earned his cooperation in designating 12 individual applicants as athletic recruits to Georgetown, even though some of the applicants didn’t even play competitive tennis, much less deserved a limited spot on the university’s tennis teams.
The indictment noted that there was evidence of emails containing false information, invoices and even checks received by Ernst which implicated him in the fraudulent scam, including checks totaling $700,000 from the fake charity between Sept. 2015 and Aug. 2016.
Ernst placed on leave
Ernst served as the tennis coach at Georgetown from 2006 to 2017, and resigned from the university in Jan. 2018.
A spokesperson for the university claimed that Ernst had quietly resigned more than a year ago “following an internal investigation that found he had violated University rules concerning admissions.”
After he left Georgetown, Ernst became the women’s tennis coach at the University of Rhode Island. However, following the announcement of the indictments, Ernst was placed on administrative leave by that school.
Dozens of wealthy parents are facing federal criminal charges in the mushrooming scandal, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. And civil lawsuits are popping up from students and parents who say they were denied a fair chance to get in to the highly selective schools.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the Trump administration is advocating for “equal opportunity for all students.” “We are still researching and looking into how the department might interface with this. Obviously this is a Department of Justice operation but we are looking very closely at it and we’ll see if any of the regulations we’re responsible for have been broken,” she said.