Football Team Responds to Cheating Allegations

The Harvard football team had just won its first game of the year over the University of San Diego, but that was hardly discussed in the ensuing press conference.

“I know the question everyone wants to ask,” Harvard coach Timothy L. Murphy said to the crowd—which stood larger than usual—early on in the press conference. “I’ll just answer it as best I can.”

Limited by privacy laws and a desire for team privacy, Murphy provided few specifics or details about the investigation into alleged cheating in last spring’s Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress” class and its possible effect on the Harvard football team, but Murphy defended the character of his team as a whole.

Asked how many of the 119 players on the Harvard roster were on the sideline Saturday, Murphy responded, “A lot,” and later said he “obviously cannot” say how many people were unavailable for the season opener.

When reporters pressed Murphy about specific players who were not suited up Saturday, the coach said he was “not able to talk about kids who aren’t here.”

With multiple football players implicated in the scandal, Murphy understood the importance of fairly punishing any cheaters.

“Harvard kids aren’t good kids; they’re great kids,” Murphy said. “But they don’t walk on water. And I think it’s important as parents and educators that we have to reinforce that crucial life lesson that inappropriate behavior won’t be tolerated because down the road and later in life, those consequences can be terminal—can cost you a marriage, cost you a career.”

The College administration is currently investigating 125 students accused of collaborating on a take home final exam. Many athletes have come under scrutiny in the wake of the scandal. Both basketball co-captains Kyle D. Casey ’13 and Brandyn T. Curry ’13 have withdrawn from the College.

Senior running back Treavor S. Scales ’13, who had a career-high 173 yards rushing in the victory, said that the team handled any investigation-related adversity as it would handle any other challenge.

“Any adversity that comes your way, you put your head down, you bite down, and you grind through it,” Scales said. “We’ve had that mentality as a team. And distractions, adversity, whatever you call it, we powered through, and I’m proud of that.”

As for what the team was saying behind closed doors, Crimson captain Robert “Bobby” L. Schneider ’13 said the conversations were limited.

“To be honest with you, we don’t really talk about it,” Schneider said. “First of all, we can’t talk about specifics, as has been said. It’s not something we’re constantly thinking about. Obviously, there’s other people talking about it, be that as it may.”

On the field, the absence of players who chose to take a leave of absence to avoid disciplinary actions seemed to have a minimal effect, as the Crimson topped the San Diego Toreros 28-13 to start the year 1-0.

“We’re just going to keep going, keep pushing through,” Schneider continued “It’s not affecting us. We’ll be alright.”

—Staff writer Jacob D. H. Feldman can be reached at jacobfeldman@college.harvard.edu.

Tags