“I can do that,” Mr. Singer replied.
Yet even the chairman of the university’s board of trustees, Rick J. Caruso, a Los Angeles real estate developer, emerged with a personal connection: As prosecutors announced that the Hollywood star Lori Loughlin was being charged with bribing her daughter’s way into U.S.C., the daughter was on Mr. Caruso’s yacht, sharing a spring break vacation in the Bahamas with Mr. Caruso’s daughter.
“My daughter and a group of students left for spring break prior to the government’s announcement yesterday,” Mr. Caruso said in a statement. “Once we became aware of the investigation, the young woman decided it would be in her best interest to return home.”
The bribery allegations, he said, were “just unthinkable.”
Mark Piccirillo, who was visiting the campus from Dallas this week with his daughter, a high school junior, said he was disappointed but not surprised to learn about the bribes. He said the case affirmed his long-held belief that the system was rigged in favor of the rich and privileged.
“The one thing that bothers me about the whole thing is it’s hard enough to get in regularly,” he said. “My guess is this is the tip of the iceberg.”
The center of the scandal swirled around the school’s athletics department, which over the years has been the most visible way the school presents itself to the world. As the bribery case made clear, the system to recruit student athletes — who are already sometimes held to lesser academic standards than other students — can be subject to manipulation.
“The fact that there is this entirely separate system for athletes’ admission and recruitment that frankly lends itself to corruption and abuse is really disturbing,” said Ariela Gross, a law professor at the university. “There’s the broader class issue of wealthy people buying access or stacking the deck in normal, legal ways.”
At one time, there was no better symbol of the renaissance at U.S.C. than the football team.
The Trojans, behind a charismatic coach, Pete Carroll, eagerly filled the professional football void left in Los Angeles by the departure of the Rams and the Raiders.