Ernst sentenced to federal prison

Gordon Ernst, shown here at Vineyard Youth Tennis in 2004, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison.

A former Island tennis coach has been sentenced to 2½ years in jail for collecting more than $3 million in bribes in the college admissions scandal that first became public in 2019.

Gordon (“Gordie”) Ernst, who led the Vineyard Youth Tennis program on the Island up until he left for a coaching job at Georgetown University in 2006, was one of several coaches tied up in a scandal that also saw several celebrities charged and ultimately convicted. Some of the students he helped get into Georgetown never picked up a tennis racket.

The sentence is in sharp contrast to the 2 weeks given to Felicity Huffman, the actress who paid to have a proctor correct her daughter’s SAT answers.

Ernst left his job on the Island in 2006, but court records indicate he still owned a condominium in nearby Falmouth at the time he was charged.

According to court filings on Friday, Ernst will have to serve 30 months in the federal Bureau of Prisons system. “Upon release from imprisonment, the defendant shall be placed on supervised release with standard and special conditions for two years,” the document states. He was also ordered to serve a concurrent sentence of six months’ home confinement with a monitoring device on the charge of tax evasion. He was not fined, and he was not ordered to pay restitution. He will have to pay $500 in court fees.

Ernst has been ordered to surrender to the federal prison system on August 29. 

According to a Boston Globe account of the court proceedings, Ernst apologized for his role in the scandal in a letter to the judge. “There is absolutely no excuse for my wrongful acts. While I became sick inside with self-hatred, I felt the victim and justified my actions with a list of grievances and a host of lies I would tell myself in order to rationalize my behavior for years,” the Globe quoted Ernst’s letter as stating. “Looking back, I lacked the honesty and humility to do what was right and ask for help.”


  1. I think it is very poor form for the Times to show a picture of the Vineyard Youth Tennis placard in it’s article. Ernst’s criminal behavior occurred while he was coaching at Georgetown well after he had left VYT. A picture is worth a thousand words and this picture wrongly suggests VYT misconduct.

    • VYT employed a crimminal.
      A crimminals past is news.
      It is unlikely this was his first crime.

      • No, they didn’t. Another example of someone shooting off their mouth with no facts to back it up. He was at VYT for a very short stint. His crimes were years after he left the island. VYT was and is a phenomenal facility that has benefitted this community’s children immeasurably. Without that program, our HS tennis teams would never have been as successful (multiple state championships), college scholarships, etc. i agree with Mr. Monahan, the photo is misleading.

    • The guy committed the crime(s) not the Times!
      He must be a buddy of yours.
      His connection to the island makes it island News!

  2. How about a picture of when Gordie was coaching Obama’s wife and kids? What strikes me is how anyone thinks they can hide $3 million in pay outs?

    • Why Obama?
      Because he was a two term President with clear victories.
      General and electoral.
      I am guessing because you don’t like him.
      Not reason enough to publish pictures of his kids.

      • Your “protective ” prejudice is loud and clear. Pictures of politicians and notables, including their children are fair game for publications and have been so for many decades. Get over it.

        • Eddie– when was the last time you saw a picture of or heard a story about Barron Trump ?

  3. I have an idea. Why don’t we impose a tax on Vineyard homeowners so we can keep people like Mr. Ernst from leaving the Island? At least he ultimately found affordable housing.

    • Dan can find a way to bash affordable housing in every non-related article in the news. “People like Mr. Ernst”? You are literally stating that people who need affordable housing are all potential criminals. Must be nice to sit up there on your throne, looking down on all the struggling, pitiful riff-raff.

      • Carla. Dan has never bashed affordable housing. Not once. He is against the Housing Bank. Huge difference. The problem with stating logical and justifiable reasons for being against this latest scheme to squeeze more out of home buyers is that people like you attack and say untrue things, as you’ve done here.

        I’m sorry you don’t have a sense of humor. Mr. Ernst will be living for free at taxpayers expense– no rent, no mortgage, no grocery bills. Can’t get more affordable than that. It’s pretty funny that Dan thought of something so appropriate to what’s on most islanders’ minds: housing. Unless you’re a friend or family of the criminal. I guess then it wouldn’t be so funny.

        • There is no mistaking his innuendo that people who would benefit from the transfer tax, and would be able to stay on the island, are likely criminals. You can dress it up all you want. It’s still a classist, ignorant statement.

    • I’ve got a better idea: How about we establish a housing bank, partly funded by a transfer fee on the sale of million-dollar-and-up properties, to make it possible for people who work here to also live here? Hey, it might also make it easier for the schools to find teachers, the hospital to find doctors and nurses, shops and restaurants to find people to staff them — and for the wealthy to find the crews to build their second, third, and fourth “homes”.

  4. I love it when liberals attack each other. Can we get Jackie against Keller and maybe Sturgis against Cooper and a few other formulations. Kelly and Axel and I can sit and laugh.

    • andy– Jackie and I disagree on a number of things, as do Sturgis and Cooper. That’s indicative of a thoughtful debate between people with differing opinions.
      You and Axel can polish your boots and goosestep in unison because basically you are incapable of independent thinking and just tow the party line, no matter how ridiculous.
      I mean, just look at recent posts . Axel is whining about a parade because a dem politician is riding in a car he could never afford.
      You are whining about some misguided accusation of plagiarism from a guy who died 54 years ago who just happens to be one of the most influential leaders this country has ever had.
      As far as Kelly goes, he is one of the most rational people here.

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