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Federal complaint accuses University of Texas men's tennis coach Michael Center of signing a player with little tennis experience to a small scholarship. In exchange, Center got about $90,000. Center told informant that he spent some of the money on UT's new tennis facility.
This happened in 2015, the complaint says. After the "player" got into school, he quit the team and renounced his scholarship. In conversation with an informant last year, Center indicated he'd be willing to do a similar scheme with another student who wanted to attend Texas.
The "player" that University of Texas tennis coach Michael Center "recruited" was from Los Altos Hills, Calif., court documents show. He played one year of tennis as a high school freshman.
Unless there's another side to this we don't know about, Michael Center will not get to finish his 19th season as Texas' tennis coach. His Longhorns are ranked third in the latest national poll.
Per Texas Tribune's salary explorer, Michael Center made $232,338 in the most recent reporting period. He told a FBI informant that he made about $90,000 from a third-party to sign a non-tennis player to a tennis scholarship in 2015.
Texas tennis coach Michael Center has been arrested and will appear before a federal magistrate judge at 2 p.m. today.
The purpose for this hearing is for a magistrate judge to set bond conditions. Michael Center is likely to be released. Doubtful that he will have changed into a jail uniform.
Texas tennis coach Michael Center has entered the courtroom wearing a burnt orange shirt and gray UT sweats - the clothing he had on when he was arrested this morning.
A lawyer is here to represent Michael Center. I don’t recognize him as someone who practices regularly in Austin. Will work on getting a name.
The lawyer representing Michael Center is Dan Cogdell.
There is one other defendant appearing before the court, a man in his 30s charged with illegal possession of a firearm.
Michael Center’s bond is $50,000. He must pay $5,000 or 10 percent to secure his release.
Michael Center must surrender passport and limit travel to Austin area unless given permission to travel further by pretrial services.
Michael Center tells judge that tennis team plays tonight (laughs uncomfortably) and again on Thursday. Does he know he’s suspended? Maybe not.
That’s it. Michael Center will be released in 30 to 45 minutes, his lawyer says. Center due back at court at 10 a.m. Wednesday to meet with pretrial services. Center’s wife was in the courtroom. I did not see any UT officials.
Michael Center at least three times turned around and looked shamefully at his wife in the gallery. Her expression never changed. Doesn’t take a body language expert to determine she was pissed.
Media is gathered outside the courthouse to speak with Michael Center’s lawyer, and maybe even Michael Center. Stand by.
Texas tennis coach Michael Center waits in the courthouse while his wife gets the car.
Michael Center tells media he just learned he has been suspended. He encourages media to cover tonight’s tennis match. “They’re a lot more fun than I am.” He declined comment on the charges.
Defense lawyer Dan Cogdell says Michael Center will not plead guilty. And he predicted that when this case goes to court a jury will find Center not guilty.
Defense lawyer Dan Cogdell spoke highly of Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte and said he’ll do the right thing for the university in terms of Michael Center’s employment status.
Michael Center was arrested at 6 a.m. at his Austin home when eight federal agents came to his door, defense lawyer Dan Cogdell said.
That’s it for now. More updates as they come.
My contacts in the legal world say Michael Center's lawyer Dan Cogdell is tenacious. Cogdell, of Houston, also represents Texas AG Ken Paxton in pending securities fraud case. A lawyer source predicts Cogdell will charge Center double the $100k the feds say he pulled in scheme.
Interesting theory I heard this morning, and it involves Steve Patterson. In 2015, when Michael Center is accused of accepting a $100,000 bribe to give an average joe a tennis scholarship, then Texas-AD Patterson was stressing his tennis coaches to raise funds for a new facility.
And to be clear: No one is accusing Patterson of suggesting Michael Center do something unscrupulous to raise the money.
Know something about this Michael Center scandal that you think I should know? My DMs are open.
Of interest in the Michael Center admissions scandal: His wife, Allison Center, works in admissions at St. Stephen's school in Austin.
Texas has fired men's tennis coach Michael Center follow his arrest Tuesday in connection to an admissions bribery scheme.
Folks: There is a tennis recruiting site that shows a player signed with Texas in 2015 who had no real credentials. He is NOT the player in the middle of the Michael Center scandal. The website should not have listed him. I've looked into it. Not him!
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