Two women are suing eight elite universities claiming that the schools have a “rigged” admissions process that allowed unqualified students to be accepted ahead of worthy candidates who paid admissions fees thinking they had a fair chance to be accepted.

The class-action lawsuit that was filed Wednesday in federal court in California is the latest in a scandal involving celebrities and other wealthy parents who federal authorities say sought to have their children admitted into universities by bribing athletic coaches and having other people take tests for their children.

The eight schools are Georgetown; Stanford; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of San Diego; the University of Southern California; the University of Texas at Austin; Wake Forest; and Yale.

University of Texas tennis coach Michael Center was one of the coaches charged with fraud as part of the scheme, after authorities say he accepted a $100,000 bribe to get a student into the university as a tennis recruit when the student did not play competitive tennis.

The university announced Wednesday it had fired Center, and officials have said the bribery scheme was an isolated incident that involved a single coach and no other university employee or officer.

However, Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods, both students at Stanford University, are now suing UT and others, saying they applied to some of the named schools and paid admissions fees, thinking they were getting a “fair admissions consideration process,” according to the suit. Instead, the process was “rigged by fraud” and schools allowed unqualified students to take slots that could have gone to others, the suit says. 

“Each of the universities were negligent in failing to maintain adequate protocols and security measures in place to guarantee the sanctity of the college admissions process, and to ensure that their own employees were not engaged in these type of bribery schemes,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also names The Edge College & Career Network and The Key Worldwide Foundation, the for-profit college counseling company and the non-profit charity owned by William “Rick” Singer, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to money laundering, racketeering and other charges in connection with the scheme alleged by authorities.

Investigators’ charging documents allege that Singer made about $25 million from 2011 to 2018 to bribe college coaches and create fake athletic profiles, some with staged photographs. In exchange, coaches would designate the clients’ children as recruited athletes, thereby helping them gain easier admission. College athletic entrance requirements are typically lower than those for regular students.

The lawsuit says that the UT System has specifically denounced the influence of money in its admissions process, saying that it has faced suspicion in the past of “a double standard that favors well-connected students.”

“Ensuring that fair and transparent admissions processes exist across the UT System is necessary to maintain public trust,” the university has stated. “Recruitment and admissions policies that are disclosed to the public and are consistent with stated university goals garners public trust that student admissions are centered on merit.”

The women also say in the lawsuit that their degrees from Stanford University are not worth as much now, because they come from a school involved in the scandal and that employers may now question whether they were admitted on their own merits. They are asking to be reimbursed for admissions fees and other damages.

The suit was filed in California, where many of the named universities are located. It also claims that California is the proper jurisdiction for a claim against UT because the university has solicited students residing in California, accepted money, including application fees, from California residents and has recruited athletes residing in California.