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Monday, February 7, 2011

Villanova Goosed its U.S. News Ranking by 'Knowingly' Submitting Inflated LSAT and GPA Data to ABA

Villanova Logo New Villanova Dean John Y. Gotanda has sent a remarkable letter to students and alumni reporting (after an investigation by Ropes & Gray) that the law school knowingly reported inflated LSAT scores and GPAs to the ABA for years prior to 2010:

Villanova ranked 67 (2011), 61 (2010), 68 (2009), and 60 (2008) in the most recent U.S. News rankings.

It has been a difficult 18 months at Villanova:


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Wow. We had a problem already with law schools cooking hiring stats and now this?

Posted by: Donna | Feb 7, 2011 8:56:29 AM

So Villanova goosed the admissions stats for a few years, and thereby inflated their US News ranking; and thus got better students than they otherwise would, and thus, even if they report correct numbers this year, their ranking this year is inflated from what it otherwise would be if they had reported correct numbers all along.

What, exactly, is the penalty on Villanova here?

Posted by: Publius | Feb 7, 2011 10:23:49 AM

I wonder if Villanova is the only school providing false data? I doubt it.

Posted by: jgreene | Feb 7, 2011 7:29:07 PM

Dukenfield's Law: If it's worth winning, it's worth cheating. [per William Claude Dukenfield, better known as W.C. Fields]

Posted by: jorgxmckie | Feb 7, 2011 7:30:34 PM

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Feb 7, 2011 8:40:18 PM

Let's wait to see how the penalty compares to that which would be imposed upon a basketball recruit for accepting a free bottle of water from a booster.

Posted by: Beer Here | Feb 8, 2011 7:25:47 AM

Full disclosure: I am an alumnus of the undergraduate program.

These headlines disappoint and sadden me. However, I do think it is worth noting that the new dean chose to disclosure these violations. There is little question he has greater integrity than his predecessor.

The prior comment may be right - Villanova may not be the only school to provide false data; I do think it may be the only one to ever admit it. This blog has published analyses which suggest intentional omissions by law schools to game the rankings system (sorry no link). I can only imagine the pressure on law school administrators to keep up.

Yes to the other commenter, it does seem like the NCAA. How do we govern it? Is a penalty appropriate? I don't know. The headlines alone are pretty damning - particularly considering how many will not take the time to read the story behind them or understand the context for this law school (i.e., the prior failed leadership).

I may be nothing more than an apologist, but I appreciate a little candor before the public tribunal. I tend to find it more credible than self-ranking (as also posted on this blog).

That this has occurred is troubling. So too is the fact that we, as attorneys or academics, may have created or fostered the environment that allowed it. Is confession enough? Maybe not. Is it a start? I think it may be.

Posted by: Anson Asbury | Feb 11, 2011 7:21:58 AM