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Ex-University of Texas tennis coach to plead guilty in college admissions scandal

The former head coach of the men's tennis team at the University of Texas at Austin is scheduled to plead guilty on Wednesday to accepting a bribe to help a wealthy father secure admission for his son at the school, as part of the U.S. college admissions scandal.

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON, April 24 (Reuters) - The former head coach of the men's tennis team at the University of Texas at Austin is scheduled to plead guilty on Wednesday to accepting a bribe to help a wealthy father secure admission for his son at the school, as part of the U.S. college admissions scandal.

Michael Center, 54, is among several sports coaches at universities including Yale and Georgetown who federal prosecutors in Boston say took bribes to designate students as fake athletic recruits as part of a $25 million scheme.

On Tuesday, a former University of Southern California (USC) assistant women's soccer coach agreed to plead guilty for her part in the scheme.

Prosecutors have charged 50 people, including the actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, with participating in the vast scheme, which involved using bribery and cheating to help wealthy parents' children gain admission to universities.

California college admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer pleaded guilty in March to charges that he helped parents facilitate cheating on college entrance exams and bribed coaches at universities to falsely present their children as athletic recruits.

Prosecutors said Center agreed to accept $100,000 as a bribe from Singer in 2015 in exchange for designating the son of a client as a tennis recruit, even though he did not play competitive tennis.

Singer ultimately provided Center with $60,000 in cash in June 2015, according to charging documents. Center has agreed to forfeit that sum as part of a plea deal.

In total, 20 people have agreed to plead guilty since prosecutors unveiled the case on March 12. Those defendants include "Desperate Housewives" actress Huffman, who is scheduled to plead guilty on May 21.

Thirty-three parents were among those charged, including "Full House" star Loughlin, who has pleaded not guilty to paying bribes to get her two daughters admitted to USC.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond Editing by Bill Berkrot)

((Nate.Raymond@thomsonreuters.com and Twitter @nateraymond; 617-856-1312; Reuters Messaging: nate.raymond.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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