Hatch Has Returned to Harvard

Eligibility for play at Harvard still in question

Former Harvard quarterback Andrew Hatch ’09-’11, who briefly started for football powerhouse Louisiana State University in 2008 after taking a leave of absence from the Crimson, has returned to Cambridge to pursue a Harvard degree, he said in a phone interview yesterday.

Hatch, who left for LSU after his freshman season, could be a factor in the Crimson’s fortunes next year if he can secure athletic eligibility.

The NCAA requires athletes to meet certain benchmarks for credit hours in order to play each season, and because Hatch is returning to Harvard without trying to transfer any credits from LSU, he will not be able to demonstrate the progress towards his degree that would normally be necessary for him to play. But he said he is petitioning the NCAA for a credit waiver that could put him back on the field.

“I would like to continue with football,” said Hatch. “If the NCAA approves it that’s the next step.”

Hatch said that he will find out whether his waiver application has been approved within the next couple of weeks.

If granted eligibility, Hatch could bring some welcome complication to the Crimson’s quarterback situation. With fifth-year seniors Chris Pizzotti and Liam O’Hagan graduating in June, Coach Tim P. Murphy would have to decide between Hatch, Collier Winters ’11, and Matt Simpson ’11.

Winters played in six games as a freshman in the 2007 season, while Simpson has seen more limited action, appearing in only one game in each of his first two years, making Hatch, with Southeastern Conference experience to his name, seem the likely choice. But Murphy has yet to be convinced.

If Hatch is eligible to play, “he would have to start from the bottom and work his way up,” Murphy said.

While he waits for the resolution of his football fortunes, Hatch said, he is here for the “unique chance” to pursue a Harvard degree.

“I had a great experience at LSU, it was a great opportunity at the moment and I got a good chance to play and I felt good about that,” said Hatch who opened the 2008 season as LSU’s starting signal caller, only months after the team had taken home a national championship. His season was eventually cut short by injuries.

“I got a couple of tough injuries and as things evolved I realized that Harvard was best for my future,” Hatch said.

Murphy said that he was “certainly happy” to have Hatch back, but denied having anything to do with his former player’s decision to return to Harvard, or his petition to the NCAA concerning eligibility.

“I think his primary motivation was academic,” Murphy said, “I told him all along that if [a Harvard degree] is something you want to do, you should do it.”

—Staff writer Jillian K. Kushner can be reached at kushner@fas.harvard.edu.