Houston sports manager to plead guilty in college admissions bribery scheme

Martin Fox has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering in connection with his role in the Rick Singer college admissions bribery case. The case also ensnared actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin.

[Update 11-15-19 Mr Fox has now pleaded guilty]

The prosecutors will recommend a sentence at the low end of the sentencing guidelines (range is 21-27 months). Mr Fox could have received up to 20 years in prison. He will also face a fine and restitution.

The bribery scheme

Fox introduced Rick Singer to Michael Center, the tennis coach at the University of Texas in Austin, who facilitated the admission of a student to UT as a purported athletic recruit in exchange for a bribe. Singer paid Fox $100,000. Fox also arranged two similar bribes with a coach at the University of San Diego. He was paid $100,000 for one and $10,000 for the other (the second student ended up not going to USD).

Center has pled guilty and will be sentenced in February 2020.

Adidas Grass Roots Director

Mr Fox is described by the Federal Government as a former President of a private tennis club. He may have been that, but is primarily a sports money man/entrepreneur.  His twitter feed (before it was made private) was full of pictures of Fox with famous sporting figures. In 2011, Sports Illustrated had described Fox as an “Adidas ‘Grass Roots Director of Houston’ (in that article they estimated that Fox had lost $249,000 in the Ponzi scheme run by Houston money manager, David Salinas).

Fox’s name turned up late last year in court proceedings concerning the college basketball corruption trial involving two Adidas officials and aspiring agent. The defense lawyers in that trial had argued that $40,000 of the money paid to Kansas basketball players, came, not from Adidas but from Martin Fox (who didn’t directly work for Adidas). No wrongdoing was alleged against Fox in that trial. The defendants were found guilty after a three-week trial.

SAT administrator

The other Houston-based defendant is Lisa ‘Niki’ Williams. She was a Teachers Assistant at a high school in Houston. She was also an administrator for the ACT and SAT exams which were held in the same school.  Fox introduced Williams to Singer. The case against her is still pending.


There is a third defendant with Houston connections. John Wilson lives in Lynnfield, Massachusetts but was arrested at George Bush airport in Houston. He is a Harvard business school graduate who runs a financial services firm, Hyannis Port Capital. He is also a former CFO at Staples.

Mr Wilson was one of the lead McKinsey management consultants involved in trying to turn around Weatherford before it filed for bankruptcy. Wilson allegedly paid Singer $1.5 million to facilitate his daughter’s admissions to Stanford and Harvard. The case against Mr Wilson is still ongoing.


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