Another Admissions Scandal? Student Admitted To Harvard After Father Buys Fencing Coach’s Home

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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Harvard University launched an investigation into a student’s acceptance to the college following the sale of a Harvard fencing coach’s home to the student’s father for reportedly almost double the home’s worth.

JieZhao bought a three-bedroom home in Needham, Massachusetts, with an assessed valued of $549,300 for almost $1 million in 2016 from Harvard’s famed fencing coach, Peter Brand, The Boston Globe first reported. Zhao’s son was a prospective student at the time, and now is enrolled at Harvard and on the fencing team. Zhao reportedly never lived in his Needham home and sold it 17 months later at a $324,500 loss.

Harvard launched an investigation into what could be another example of college admissions bribery after the Globe reached out. (RELATED: Who Is The Mystery Parent Who Paid $6.5 Million In College Admission Scandals?)

While Zhao told the Globe he realized the exchange appeared to be suspicious, it was an investment for a friend, not a payment to get his son admitted into the Ivy League school.

“I want to help Peter Brand because I feel so sorry he has to travel so much to go to fencing practice,” Zhao said.

The commute, however, was only about 12 miles.

“We are committed to ensuring the integrity of our recruitment practices,” said Harvard spokeswoman Rachael Dane.

The dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Claudine Gay, wrote in an email to the campus that staff do not believe the allegations are related to the Operation Varsity Blues scheme, the college admission scandal that has involved celebrities like Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman.

“Regardless of what we eventually learn about these allegations, this is not a time for complacency. Where there are opportunities to clarify practices and strengthen procedures, we must act on them, and do so with a sense of urgency,” she said. “This work is critically important to our academic mission and to the integrity of our athletics program and it has my full attention.”

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