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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Department of Justice announced a settlement Wednesday with Oral Roberts University, saying the evangelical school will pay more than $300,000 to resolve whistleblower allegations that it broke federal law in the way it compensated a recruiting company.
Federal prosecutors said the university in Tulsa paid recruiter Joined Inc. with a share of tuition from students who enrolled, in violation of incentive compensation law on admissions and recruitment.
The university admits no wrongdoing in paying the settlement and denies the allegations.
Joined Inc. co-owner Maurice Shoe will receive $45,000 through a provision of the law that allows whistleblowers to receive a share of money recovered.
Shoe filed suit in federal court in South Carolina, where he settled similar claims with North Greenville University for $2.5 million.
U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon for the District of South Carolina said higher education should prioritize students' educational interests, not school or recruiters' financial interests.
"The U.S. Attorney's Office will fight to protect against misuse of federal taxpayer dollars intended to serve students' educational needs," Lydon said in a statement.
Oral Roberts University did not misuse public money, the institution said in a statement. The university fully cooperated with investigators and settled to avoid a long legal battle and to keep focus on its mission.
The university bears the name of its founder, pioneering televangelist Oral Roberts, who died in 2009. Roberts is credited with helping to bring American Pentecostalism into the mainstream. The mission statement of the university founded in 1963 is to "develop Holy Spirit-empowered leaders through whole person education to impact the world."
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