After Cheating Allegations, Harvard Stripped Of Four National Titles (In Quiz Bowl)

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Good morning, Harvard. You're feeling quite pleased with yourselves today, aren't you? A good old underdog-triumphs-over-preseason-adversity-and-superior-opponent kinda thing happened last night. And to you, of all institutions. Congratulations.

But this morning, as mornings do, brought a cruel realization: You're just a bunch of mongrel loser cheaters. We're not even talking about the massive academic-dishonesty scandal which forced oodles of students—including two of the Crimson's best basketball players—to withdraw. No. That's old news. We're talking about quiz bowl, dammit. Inside Higher Ed has the story:

A cheating scandal involving a former member of Harvard University’s quiz bowl team has resulted in the revocation of four of its championships.

National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC (NAQT) announced on Wednesday that it had recently reviewed server logs covering the past several years of tournaments; this review found that four team members from different teams, who were involved in the writing of questions for primarily middle and high school competitions, had improperly accessed information that could have included parts of questions used in the college competitions.


According to the NAQT, one of these writers, Andrew Watkins, of Harvard’s “A” team (many institutions split their teams for tournaments), had accessed “questions-by-writer” and/or “category” pages directly prior to the NAQT Intercollegiate Championship Tournament in 2009, 2010 and 2011. This gave Watkins, who graduated in 2011, access to the first 40 characters of upcoming tournament questions. Although there are blocks in place to prevent accessing questions even in part, Watkins was able to circumvent them.


Four revoked titles, you say? The Harvard quiz bowl team makes Pete Carroll's USC look like BYU. We would expect any other school to be chastened by this, but, hell, at Harvard? Kid's probably getting a medal and an invitation to lecture at Goldman Sachs's next on-campus recruiting session. Fuck you, Harvard.

And update: BlairWalshProject, a quiz bowl vet, has a post up at Sidespin contextualizing the malfeasance. Go read it.

Veritossed [Inside Higher Ed]