Illinois Law School Got Scholarship Cash For Clout Admissions

The University of Illinois law school got $300,000 in university scholarship money in exchange for admitting politically connected applicants, according to newly released documents obtained by a Chicago newspaper.

The law school got the discretionary funds over four years to lure better qualified applicants to attend the school, the Chicago Tribune reports. Law school officials sought the money to counteract the negative drag on the school's ranking by U.S. News & World Report that would be caused by admitting applicants with lower grades and LSAT scores.

Former Law Dean Heidi Hurd testified during a hearing probing clout-based admissions that Chancellor Richard Herman "would reach into his discretionary funds and aid that effort," according to the Tribune report.

The newspaper says 24 underqualified applicants, amounting to about 3 percent to 4 percent of the school's students, were admitted because of political connections over a four-year period.

Current Law Dean Bruce Smith issued a statement on Thursday stressing that under his leadership the school will not give any special treatment to any applicant. "Admissions decisions will be made on the merits, and on nothing else," he said.