Yale University is in trouble again over its misrepresentation of the truth about its football team.
In the fall, quarterback Patrick Witt was a candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship. It was widely reported and celebrated at the time that he withdrew his application for the Rhodes in order to play in “The Game” (Harvard vs. Yale). But it turns out that he was no longer a candidate at that point. From the New York Times:
But Witt was no longer a contender for the Rhodes, a rare honor reserved for those who excel in academics, activities and character. Several days earlier, according to people involved on both sides of the process, the Rhodes Trust had learned through unofficial channels that a fellow student had accused Witt of sexual assault. The Rhodes Trust informed Yale and Witt that his candidacy was suspended unless the university decided to re-endorse it.
The media hoopla over Witt reinforces the disappointment of this revelation:
During the fall, Witt had been lionized as the hero of a badly needed feel-good sports saga — the “perfect antidote,” one newspaper said, to the allegations of child sexual abuse at Penn State. Bloomberg News described his as a Hamlet-like choice. A glowing NBC Nightly News profile called him “an extraordinary individual.” On ESPN, Witt said he would pray on the decision.
When Witt withdrew his application from contention, he made no mention of the allegations, and allowed the media to conclude that he was withdrawing in favor of his team:
Yale had not told Rhodes whether it was re-endorsing Witt when he released a statement through the athletic department the next day.
“I will be playing in the Yale-Harvard game this Saturday,” it said. “I have withdrawn my application for the Rhodes scholarship.”
The quarterback did not tie the two sentences, but journalists did, reporting that he had given up on the scholarship so that he could play. Neither Witt nor Yale corrected the misimpression.
After the loss to Harvard, when reporters asked whether he was now sorry to have skipped the Rhodes interview, Witt said, “My decision wasn’t based on winning or losing this game.”
The cover-up at Yale extends beyond Witt and the University to include the Yale Daily News.
The editors of the Yale Daily News, the nation’s oldest college daily and a bastion of college journalism, knew about the sexual assault charge as early as November.
The former opinion editor of the YDN writes that,
Multiple current and past members of the newspaper’s managing board, all deeply involved in the day-to-day work of the paper, have confirmed that the News has had the story for over two months. In fact, the Times story that broke last night featured reporting from last year’s editor-in-chief, Vivian Yee. She too approached the paper with a tip-off, but its editors chose not to follow the story. The paper even knew that the sexual assault claim had lost Pat an offer to join the Boston Consulting Group after graduation. Even then, they wrote nothing. For reasons personal, social, or political — who can ever tell on a college campus? — the News’ management chose to ignore the bombshell, protecting Pat’s reputation.