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.”