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

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

John Vandemoer. Harper One, $27.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-302010-8

In this gripping debut, former Stanford University sailing coach Vandemoer makes a strong case for his innocence in the notorious “Operation Varsity Blues” pay-for-play college admissions scandal. While coaches at other schools accepted large payments for designating unqualified students as athletic recruits, Vandemoer claims he didn’t take one penny for himself—instead, he believed the checks flowing into Stanford’s coffers from Varsity Blues plot mastermind Rick Singer were legitimate donations to the university, allegedly confirmed by Stanford’s athletic director Bernard Muir. Despite that, when Vandemoer’s name came up in connection with the FBI’s investigation of Varsity Blues, Stanford fired him and evicted him, his wife, and their two small children from Stanford housing and childcare. While the author notes that his lawyer advised him that the court would go easier on him if he pleaded guilty (“This was how the system worked: innocence didn’t matter”), he proclaims his guiltlessness in powerful prose—which the judge appeared to have believed by his sentencing of Vandemoer to only probation after he took a plea deal. Vandemoer’s earnestness is apparent throughout his tale of intrigue and ruination, making it easy to empathize with his predicament and root for him to successfully rebuild his life. Expertly told, this powerful story will have readers riveted. Agent: Deborah Grosvenor, Grosvenor Literary Agency. (Sept.)