An internal auditor found that Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall Law School handed out more than $400,000 in scholarships to poorly performing students to boost enrollment and enrich a school official, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Auditor Charla Parker-Thompson found that the admissions scandal that resulted in the ouster of former president Austin Lane was more widespread than realized. The newspaper reported that the FBI, the Texas Rangers and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office have been contacted about criminal behavior that investigators uncovered. TSU has also alerted the U.S. Department of Education, the state auditor’s office and university accrediting organizations.
The report said that four applicants paid the law school’s assistant dean of admissions more than $100,000 for admission and scholarships to TSU. The report also alleges that one student’s parents sold a vehicle so they could pay $10,000 to the same administrator and that two more students agreed to pay more than $18,000 before the administrator was fired.
Although the report does not identify that administrator by name, the Chronicle pointed out that Edward Rene, the law school’s assistant dean of admissions since 1999, was fired last year over concerns about the admissions process.
The report noted that all scholarships were awarded at the assistant dean’s discretion because there was no written policy for awarding them. The investigation found that some students not eligible for federal financial aid were awarded scholarships that allowed them to receive “substantial refunds” that put money back in their pockets.
The report blames Lane for not notifying the auditor and the school’s board of regents about the admissions issues. He told the Chronicle on Wednesday that the $879,000 settlement agreement he reached with TSU included no findings of wrongdoing by him.
“If I violated anything in [my] contract, they would’ve never paid me out,” Lane told the newspaper in a text message. “Termination for cause means no money. Obviously, that was not the case.”