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Lori Loughlin’s daughters remain at USC amid college admissions scandal

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Olivia Jade Giannulli, left, with her mother, actress Lori Loughlin, who is facing charges in a college admissions scandal.
(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

Olivia Jade Giannulli and Isabella Giannulli, daughters of actress Lori Loughlin, remain enrolled at USC amid a sweeping college admissions scandal that has ensnared the elite private university along with other top colleges across the country, according to a USC spokesperson.

Loughlin, from “Full House,” and her husband, fashion designer J. Mossimo Giannulli, are among dozens of wealthy parents who federal prosecutors allege paid huge sums of money to Newport Beach businessman William “Rick” Singer to help doctor college entrance exam scores and falsify athletic records of students to enable them to secure admission to at least eight exclusive schools, including Yale, USC and UCLA.

Olivia Jade, 19, is a freshman at USC and Isabella, 20, is a sophomore, based on their dates of admission. The university confirmed their enrollment status in a statement circulated March 14. It is not clear whether the sisters are still attending classes as the university investigates students possibly connected to the scheme.

FULL COVERAGE: Dozens charged — including Hollywood actresses — in connection with college admissions scheme »

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USC officials said last week it had placed holds on the accounts of students who may be tied to the scam, which bars them from registering for classes or acquiring transcripts from the college while they are under review. The university said it has notified the affected students but did not disclose the number involved.

“Following the review, we will take the proper action related to their status, up to revoking admission or expulsion,” the university said in a statement.

Yale University officials announced Monday that the Ivy League school rescinded the admission of a student in connection with the far-reaching scandal. It’s the first known case in which a family’s involvement in the scheme has resulted in a revoked admission.

Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly shelled out roughly half a million dollars to get both of their daughters into USC. The couple saw being a coxswain as their daughters’ tickets into the private college, which boasts an admission rate of 13%, even though they had never competed in the sport, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.

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They began discussing the plot with Singer in April 2016 after they met with Isabella’s college counselor, according to the affidavit.

“I’d like to maybe sit with you after your session with the girls as I have some concerns and want to fully understand the game plan and make sure we have a roadmap for success as it relates to [our daughter] and getting her into a school other than ASU!” Giannulli wrote to Singer.

Singer told the couple that Isabella’s academic qualifications were “at or just below the low end of USC’s admission,” according to the affidavit. Authorities allege the couple agreed to bribe USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel, who also was charged in the scheme, to designate their daughter as an athletic recruit on the crew team.

After their older daughter’s admission was secured, they repeated the scam with Olivia Jade in 2017, authorities allege. Singer told the couple he would present their daughter as a crew coxswain for the L.A. Marina Club team and requested they send an “action picture.” The couple eventually sent him a photo of Olivia Jade rowing on a machine, according to the affidavit.

Heinel and men’s and women’s water polo coach Jovan Vavic were both fired after allegations came to light that they had received bribes in exchange for helping students get into USC as purported athletic recruits.

News of the cheating scandal has sent shock waves through higher education institutions across the country and heightened debate about the advantages the ultra-rich enjoy in accessing elite colleges amid intense competition in which merit alone is not enough to ensure admission.

hannah.fry@latimes.com

Twitter: @Hannahnfry

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