Rigged Justice: How the College Admissions Scandal Ruined an Innocent Man’s Life

HarperOne. Sept. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780063020108. $27.99. ED
Vandemoer, one of the coaches charged in the Varsity Blues scandal, shares his side of the story. He pled guilty to racketeering charges for accepting donations to the Stanford sailing program in exchange for sponsoring wealthy student applicants as athletes. Portraying himself as a victim of recruiter Rick Singer’s scheme to get students into college using bribery and fraudulent résumés and SAT scores, Vandemoer claims that he was focused on building his sailing program and was unaware of Singer’s machinations. Vandemoer describes in unflinching detail how, after being charged, he lost his job, community, home, and freedom. However, he doesn’t show much awareness of how privilege has affected his life, his sport, and his school. The Varsity Blues story attracted so much attention in part because of how it shone a spotlight on the relationship between privilege and academia; a more critical examination in this memoir would have better served Vandemoer’s narrative.
VERDICT Detailed and compelling, though not as nuanced as it could have been, this memoir unearths particulars of the scandal that casual news readers may have missed. It will appeal most to readers with a strong interest in the Varsity Blues scandal.
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