In many ways, the college admissions system was also on trial. The defense argued that its clients were playing by the rules as they understood them: that wealthy parents could get an edge for their children by donating money. In this case, they paid the money through a corrupt college consultant, William Singer, who said he had a “side door” reserved for recruited athletes.
Mr. Singer’s scheme has thrown an unflattering light on the college coaching industry, in which parents pay thousands of dollars for tutoring and advising services to help their children get into prestigious institutions. And it showed how many students use college athletics to gain a big advantage in admissions, reinforcing a cynical view that gaining entry into highly selective schools can be a transactional process.
But prosecutors stressed that universities were not on trial, and that this was not a case about traditional admissions. The defendants, they said, had gone to great lengths to pay bribes and falsify their children’s athletic profiles.
Even so, the case could lead to some self-examination by admissions officials, said Jeffrey M. Cohen, a former federal prosecutor and associate professor at Boston College Law School.
“People who are trying to cheat always look for the weakest link,” Mr. Cohen said, adding, “What’s shocking about this case was that we saw in broad daylight that people were lying to get through these weak links in the admissions system.”
U.S.C. issued a statement saying, “We respect the judicial process and the jury’s decision.”
The verdict was a swift, resounding victory for the prosecution. The jury came into the courtroom a little after 2:30 p.m. Friday, just more than 24 hours after it began deliberating. The court clerk read the verdict form, pronouncing each man’s name and a separate “guilty” verdict, over and over again, five times for the charges they had in common, and another six times for Mr. Wilson, a crushing pile of guiltys.
“This is obviously not the result he was looking for, but you know that’s our system and that’s why they have appellate courts, so that’s what we’ll be doing next,” Mr. Abdelaziz’ lawyer, Brian Kelly, said outside the courthouse.