Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Today's New York Times writes up the resignation of Yale football coach Tom Williams, caught in a resume-padding scandal after he claimed to have been a former Rhodes Scholarship finalist. A two-bylined investigation by the Times in November, as Yale quarterback Patrick Witt was dropping out of the Rhodes process so he wouldn't miss the Harvard game, found no evidence that Williams had applied for a Rhodes at all. That prompted an internal inquiry at Yale, which led to Williams stepping down.

The Times rehashed the Rhodes investigation today, and added that further reporting had also contradicted Williams's claim that he had briefly been a non-playing free-agent addition to the San Francisco 49ers roster. "Caught in lies," the headline said. The text likewise called Williams's Rhodes story a "lie." (For comparison, in 2004, while debunking the Bush Administration's case that Iraq had an active nuclear-weapons program, the Newspaper of Record called the administration's claims "largely one-sided" and wrote that officials had failed to "convey the depth of evidence" contradicting them. )

Then the Times dropped back to put the whole Williams scandal in context:

Witt's story gained attention just as the child sexual abuse scandal fully engulfed Penn State. Jerry Sandusky, a longtime top assistant to Joe Paterno, had been charged with molesting young boys over many years. Paterno, who had failed to act aggressively when alerted years ago that Sandusky had been seen assaulting a child on Penn State property, was soon fired.

The Penn State scandal, at the time, was only the latest and worst in a series of embarrassments for college football programs. The University of Miami was placed under investigation this fall after it was reported that a convicted swindler had deeply infiltrated the football team, with cash and favors. Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel lost his job, in part for failing to report and later lying about a scandal involving his players.

Padding your resume—a football tradition going back to Vince Lombardi, at least—is the same kind of thing as raping children. Giving athletes cash and favors? Also like raping children. Free tattoos? Child rape. In case you were wondering what we mean when we talk about the toy morality of the people who cover college sports, there you have it.

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