Penn Donor Alleges Trustees Embezzled Money Intended for Wharton Scholarships

According to a federal lawsuit filed on Monday, a University of Pennsylvania alumnus who donated around $168,000 to help struggling business students is claiming that the university allocated some of those scholarships to student athletes instead.

Saul B. Rosenthal’s attorneys claimed that Penn’s Trustees had broken a deal with the New York-based alumnus, who has donated a total of $168,000 to his alma university since 2012. The complaint states that the money was set aside for scholarships benefiting Wharton School students who were economically disadvantaged.

Rosenthal is president and board member of Oxford Square Capital Corp., a Connecticut-based company, having graduated from Wharton.

The complaint, filed in Pennsylvania’s Eastern District, claims that Rosenthal’s donation stipulated that the money was to support students in the prestigious business program, giving “first preference” to those focusing in entrepreneurship or finance.

However, according to Rosenthal’s attorneys, Penn’s Trustees gave away an undisclosed amount of his gift to at least two university track and field and soccer players. The complaint stated that other Wharton students “needed financial aid” and that they satisfied Rosenthal’s academic requirements.

Ivy League rules prohibits institutions from providing athletic scholarships to its students, although they can still apply for need-based financial aid.

The lawsuit demands Penn to terminate Rosenthal’s scholarship program, repay the whole sum of Rosenthal’s donation, or transfer any remaining monies to a charity or another educational institution. It also charges Penn’s trustees of one count of breach of contract.

The complaint mentions two students who were awarded Rosenthal’s athletic scholarship, but it withholds their identities. Rosenthal’s attorneys claimed that neither student participated in the two business programs for which the award was meant.

According to the complaint, Penn allegedly informed Rosenthal, “falsely,” that a scholarship-winning Penn soccer player was minoring in “entrepreneurship and innovation” at Wharton.

“But no such minor is offered by the University, and the student never obtained such a minor,” Rosenthal’s lawyers wrote. The complaint did not state the value of the soccer player’s scholarship.

Both Elizabeth Sher of Day Pitney LLP, Rosenthal’s attorney, and a representative for the University of Pennsylvania declined to comment on ongoing legal matters.

According to Rosenthal’s attorneys, their client had already protested to Penn about the purported misappropriation of his money. According to the complaint, the school “temporarily changed its practices” as a result, but Rosenthal’s attorneys claim that Penn later went back to providing the scholarship to its student athletes.

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