William McGlashan had to make his son a football player. And quickly. In exchange for a $250,000 payment, a California-based university-admissions consultant had arranged for the younger McGlashan to skirt the normal application process at the University of Southern California and be accepted as a prized American football recruit. A “side door” into the university, the consultant, William Singer, called it. The problem was that the boy did not play football. They did not even have a football team at his secondary school. “We have images of him in lacrosse. I don’t know if that matters,” offered McGlashan, a top executive at the private equity firm TPG and co-founder with rock star Bono of the Rise Fund, a socially conscious investment vehicle. “They [USC] don’t have a lacrosse team,” Singer responded. Then he took matters into his own hands. “I’m going to make him a kicker/punter,” he decided, listing specialist positions in the sport often occupied by the slight of frame. “I’ll get...

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