The U.S. Department of Education has opened preliminary investigations into eight universities whose athletic coaches were allegedly part of the college-admissions cheating scheme being prosecuted by the Justice Department.

The agency is seeking information about the schools’ athletic-recruiting and admissions practices and indicated that even though they haven’t been criminally charged, they’re still under scrutiny.

“The allegations made and evidence cited by the Department of Justice raise questions about whether your institution is fully meeting its obligations” under federal laws, the Education Department said in letters dated Monday and sent to the eight schools.

Fifty people were charged this month for their alleged roles in a scheme by which college consultant William “Rick” Singer said he helped clients fraudulently boost their children’ SAT and ACT scores and bribed coaches to admit applicants as recruited athletes, even when they had little skill in the sport. Mr. Singer, who allegedly helped direct $25 million in payments for those services between 2011 and early 2019, has pleaded guilty to four charges. Some of the parents charged in the scheme include Hollywood actresses and business executives.

An expanded version of this story appears on