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Yale Pride Goeth Before A Fall

Rarely is there reason to care about Ivy League football, but the recent Yale football scandal adds fuel to the already-impassioned debate over the future American amateur athletics. Quarterback Patrick Witt faced the ultimate golden boy problem: either don his Yale uniform and play against Harvard in the annual game, or interview for the Rhodes Scholarship. Witt, advised by his coach Tom Williams who had coincidentally been in the same situation years ago, chose football over his Rhodes interview.

It turned out that the coach’s decision was made easier by the fact that he wasn’t actually a Rhodes finalist—that line had been “inflated” on his resume. Now, the NYT alleges that Witt did not face the dilemma either; his candidacy had been revoked due to sexual assault charges.

Regardless of the resolution of the he-said, she-said, the scandal may ultimately mark another stage in the death of amateur athletics.  The Olympics, which once insisted that participants be amateurs, gave up the fight long ago. Will American colleges be next?

Historically, American institutions, from the Boy Scouts to the Ivy League, taught values like tenacity, teamwork, and leadership on the “fields of friendly strife.”  Yet the continuous barrage of college sports scandals, exposing the shortcomings of institutions and athletes alike, makes it difficult to claim that the scholar-athlete ideal is alive and well.  In the coming weeks, Yale will have to answer many questions, including whether it knowingly allowed a student facing unresolved accusations of sexual assault to play in its biggest game. In the coming years, colleges, particularly those that don’t come close to BCS championships, will need to ask whether the NCAA remains a good steward of the scholar-athlete ideal.

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  • BillH

    21st century USA: $$ trump everything. (Yes, I’m an octogenarian cynic.)

  • Mrs. Davis

    Watch this lawsuit to see the courts put the coup de grace to the NCAA’s exploitation of adolescents.

  • David Bennett

    The state of college athletics is no more corrupt than the state of the rest of the academy. If the activities of the administrations and faculty of American colleges and universities had 6 or 8 major networks and a section of every single newspaper devoted to atomizing their every breath athletics would actually come off looking pretty good. That doesn’t mean no changes are needed, but your desire to see someone that has been accused but not proven guilty punished would never be applied to a person in an academic setting.

  • David Bennett

    BillH says
    “21st century USA: $$ trump everything.”
    Yes, academics are a greedy lot. The inflation rate of tuition has been double the overall inflation rate for the last 50 years. It would be quite difficult to argue that the value has even kept pace.

  • Alex Weiner
  • David Bennett

    More background from KC Johnson at Minding the Campus. Any NYT story should be taken with a substantial grain of salt.

  • Kohl Haas

    At a recent dinner at an investment conference, 10 persons at a table (Oil Execs, Construction, banking, finance types) the question came up “Would you hire an Ivy Leaguer?” Answser,immediate, unanimous, and emphatic: “No!” Reason, also immediate, unanimous, and emphatic: “No integrity”. One person put a caveat on his answer: “If they have a military background, I would interview them”.

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