Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. HomeTeam

IMG Academy suspends Mark Riddell after college admissions bribery scandal

IMG said it does not think the Palmetto man’s alleged misconduct affected its students.
Athletes compete in the 100 meter hurdle during the FHSAA statewide track and field finals on Friday afternoon, May 6, 2016 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. ( ZACK WITTMAN | Times)
Published Mar. 13
Updated Mar. 13

IMG Academy’s Mark Riddell said Wednesday he is “profoundly sorry” for his role in a college admissions cheating scandal, and IMG said it has no reason to believe his actions affected its students or staff.

According to federal law enforcement, the Palmetto resident received thousands of dollars to take the SAT and ACT for high school students.

“I want to communicate to everyone that I am profoundly sorry for the damage I have done and grief I have caused those as a result of my needless actions,” Riddell said in a statement released through his Tampa attorney, Ben Stechschulte. “I understand how my actions contributed to a loss of trust in the college admissions process. I assume full responsibility for what I have done…

“I will always regret the choices I made, but I also believe that the more than one thousand students I legitimately counseled, inspired, and helped reach their goals in my career will paint a more complete picture of the person I truly am.”

Although some people involved in the scandal are accused of bribery, Riddell said he never did so. He faces charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

On Tuesday, Riddell was indefinitely suspended from his job as the director of college entrance exam preparation at IMG, the boarding school and athletic training facility in Bradenton. Neither IMG nor its athletes were mentioned by name in any of the documents, but his involvement raised questions about a program that produces elite athletes has become a prep football powerhouse.

IMG gave its answer Wednesday evening, saying it does not think anything improper went on with its athletes.

“With the current information at hand, we have no reason to believe this alleged misconduct extends beyond Mr. Riddell, nor do we believe that these actions have any direct relation to Academy students, parents, or staff,” IMG said in a statement.

Federal authorities allege that Riddell spent years taking tests for students, usually receiving $10,000 from the charitable accounts of a California man, William Rick Singer.

RELATED: TV stars and coaches charged in college bribery scheme

For example, authorities say Riddell received a copy of a student’s handwriting to try to imitate in July and flew from Tampa to Houston. The next day, he took the ACT in his hotel room and flew back to Tampa. He later received a check for $10,000, according to the complaint.

Riddell had been with IMG since 2006, according to an online bio that was removed from the facility’s site Tuesday. The NCAA said in a statement Tuesday that it will investigate to see if any of its rules were broken in the scandal.

“The charges brought forth today are troubling and should be a concern for all of higher education," the NCAA said in its statement. "We are looking into these allegations to determine the extent to which NCAA rules may have been violated.”

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. When former Armwood coaching legend Sean Callahan talks, coaches and players listen. Yes, Callahan is back on the field, with his periodic loud vocals, but this time he is helping as an assistant for Lakewood. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The former Armwood head coach cracks the whip when it comes to organization, and the Spartans are among the hottest teams in Tampa Bay this season.
  2. Quarterback Fernando Monroe (8) throws during football practice at Dixie Hollins High on Tuesday. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Coach Dale Caparaso says the key to the Rebels thriving is that "we’ve kept the Dixie kids at Dixie.”
  3. Wiregrass Ranch quarterback Rocco Becht has helped lead the Bulls to an unbeaten start. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    The sophomore quarterback certainly wasn’t expecting to be the starter, but “is growing every day,” his coach says.
  4. Carrollwood Day's Haley Brown leads Tampa Bay in kills with 167. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Players from Carrollwood Day, Calvary Christian, Central and Berkeley Prep claim top spots.
  5. Riverview quarterback Stazion Gage has accounted for almost 1,000 total yards and 10 touchdowns this season. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Sharks are on the cusp of securing their first winning season in more than a decade.
  6. Alexandra Postlethwaite helps dish out the assists for Bishop McLaughlin. ALICE HERDEN  |  Special to the Times
    Not much change at the top, but plenty of movement in the lower half of this week’s rankings
  7. Clearwater Academy International's Ajou Ajou makes a reception while working through a passing drill in April. CAI faces American Collegiate on Friday. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    One of the area’s top volleyball tournaments, the Berkeley Premier, also starts this weekend.
  8. Armwood's Charles Montgomery runs the ball during the first half against Plant on Aug. 23, 2019, in Seffner. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    There is plenty of movement except at the top, where Armwood remains No. 1
  9. The Pinellas Park Patriots take to the field moments after the end of the fourth quarter against Mitchell on Friday night. The Patriots won 29-19. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    PSA to opposing offenses facing Lakewood this season: Good night and good luck.
  10. Warming up before the game Saturday night, USF redshirt freshman Jordan McCloud, a Plant High alum, got his first start as a college quarterback. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The former Panther gets the nod over Blake Barnett against South Carolina State.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement