Jovan Vavic found guilty in Varsity Blues case

Former USC water polo Head Coach Jovan Vavic was found guilty by a federal jury in Boston. His charges include conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery. 

Prosecutors said Vavic received around $250,000 in bribes for accepting under qualified recruits into the water polo program. 

Vavic led the USC men’s and women’s water polo teams to 16 national championships and won Coach of the Year 15 times during his tenure at USC. He was fired after his arrest in March 2019.

Vavic’s defense incorporated his past coaching success in their argument, asserting that officials at the school demanded that he do whatever he could to raise money for his championship-winning program. They further claimed that Vavic had never lied or taken a bribe. 

His defense also argued that USC has a “pervasive culture” of accepting wealthy students who could later donate money.

The jury convicted Vavic on all counts after a “half-day of deliberations.” 

The “Varsity Blues” investigation ended with 57 people charged in a conspiracy to secure college admission for children of wealthy and famous parents. William “Rick” Singer, the California college admissions consultant who conducted this operation, bribed Jovan Vavic, according to prosecutors.

Singer pleaded guilty in 2019 to all charges, including facilitating cheating on the SAT, and is cooperating with the government.

Prosecutors said the money included $100,000 designating the son of John Wilson — a former executive at Staples and Gap — as a water polo recruit. In addition, Singer paid Vavic $120,000 to cover the private school tuition of his sons. 

Despite USC’s involvement, prosecutors were careful to note that all the universities involved with the scandal are “unknowing victims of the fraud.”