Students React to Kyle Casey's Withdrawal

As news that men’s basketball captain Kyle D. Casey ’13 had withdrawn from College spread from the internet to the Yard, students reacted with surprise and disappointment to the impact of the Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress” cheating scandal on the University’s athletic department.

“I think the whole thing is really disappointing, particularly as a Harvard basketball fan,” said Tyrell Dixon ’13, a senior in Kirkland House. “Kyle is a big part of the team. But more generally, as a student, I think it reflects poorly on the University, especially something as pervasive as this.”

Casey, honored as the Crimson’s Most Valuable Player for 2011-2012, led Harvard with 11.4 points per game last season, which culminated with the Crimson winning its first outright Ivy League title on the way to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1946.

Many students around campus were unaware of the situation early Tuesday afternoon, after Sports Illustrated broke the story in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Though Lucas B. Cofer ’16 had not heard the news, he said he believes this latest chapter in the still unfolding scandal takes the incident to a new, graver level.

“[The 1310 Scandal] sent a message early on that coming into any school, cheating would not be tolerated,” Cofer said. “The fact that you can relate [the Gov 1310 cheating scandal] to affecting the athletic department...really makes it that much more serious.”

Dixon described himself as a big fan of Harvard basketball, but agreed that responsibility for any academic indiscretions should be put on the athletes themselves.

“I think [student-athletes] know right from wrong and they knew what they were doing was cheating,” Dixon said.

It is not the responsibility, he added, of the athletic department to “monitor them on something as basic as this, their integrity as students.”

Several students promised their continued support of the rest of the team in the upcoming season, as the Crimson begins its Ivy League title defense in November.

“Losing a captain is tough for any team to go through,” said Serena F. Hagerty ’16, “so if anything, the rest of the team needs more support.”

Dixon also pledged his support to the team for their upcoming season.

“I’m a big fan and I’m going to cheer for the team just as hard,” he said. “[This is] going to be tough to overcome on the court, but I’ll still come and cheer.”

Ali I. Ramirez ’15, a women’s rugby player, wanted the University to do more for the resolution of this investigation.

“I think it’s unfair that Harvard is not being more expedient and more clear with the rules, because it’s affecting a lot of the athletes,” Ramirez said. “It’s not just the athletes that are being affected but also their team and the school as a whole.”

Ramirez said she believes that ambiguous regulations were at the root of the scandal.

“I wouldn’t hold the athletic department accountable for this,” Ramirez said. “I think it’s more Harvard College as a whole, and especially the government class and department, making the rules clear for what is cheating and what is collaboration.”

Students said they understood that varsity sports require a significant time commitment beyond the classroom, but they insisted that standards should be held the same for every student of the College.

“If you are the star player on the athletic side, people support you in that way, but you also have to maintain your classes,” said Hugh P. Zabriskie ’16. “It’s an added weight, but that’s also what makes you so respected on campus. I’m just sad to see it play out as it did.”

—Staff writer Peter G. Cornick can be reached at pcornick@college.harvard.edu.

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