Mickelson hired tutor firm, denounces cheating

PONTE VEDRA, Florida — PGA Tour golfer Phil Mickelson confirmed Thursday that he and his wife, Amy, hired William Singer and his for-profit college tutoring company to prepare their children for the college admission and selection process.

Mickelson, speaking after his opening round at the Tour Championship, said everything was done above board, and that neither he nor his family ever made financial contributions to Singer’s Key World Foundation.

“We, along with thousands of other families, hired he and his company to help guide us through the college application process,” Mickelson said. “We’re as shocked as everyone the last few days.”

Earlier this week, federal authorities announced Singer orchestrated a massive bribery scheme to get students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes and help them cheat on college entrance exams to gain admission. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges including racketeering conspiracy, prosecutors said.

Singer operated Edge College & Career Network, a for-profit college counseling and preparatory business in Newport Beach, California. He identified and recruited coaches who were willing to accept bribes from the parents of prospective students to help them gain admission to elite universities.

According to federal prosecutors, from 2011 to February 2019 Singer allegedly conspired with others to facilitate cheating on ACT and SAT exams in exchange for bribes by arranging for a third party to secretly take the test in place of the actual students, or to replace the students’ answers with his own.

Singer also retained clients who were willing to pay bribes to the coaches and college administrators in order to gain admission for their children. The coaches allegedly designated the students as recruits for competitive college athletic teams, regardless of their athletic ability, to help facilitate their admission. Singer and others concealed the bribe payments by funneling the money through Singer’s charitable organization.

“We’re not a part of this,” Mickelson said of the bribery and cheating scheme. “Most every family that hired his company was not a part of it. I think that’s why we’re all so surprised.”

Mickelson’s oldest daughter, Amanda, is an undergraduate student at Brown University. She graduated from Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, California, and was captain of the tennis and lacrosse teams there. Mickelson’s younger children, daughter Sophia and son Evan, are still in high school.

“Our kids, schools are like fighting to get them,” Mickelson said. “I say that as a proud dad. Their grades and outside activities and worldly beliefs are things that have colleges recruiting them. [Singer and his company] helped us through the whole process because it can be confusing.”

Edge College & Career Network published a testimonial from Mickelson and his wife on its company website. Mickelson said it was a thank-you note his wife wrote to Singer for helping them with their children’s academic careers.

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