Murphy Fields Scandal-Related Questions at Press Conference

Published by Robert S Samuels on September 21, 2012 at 3:12AM

The post-game press conference was more crowded than usual following the Harvard football team’s season opening win over San Diego on Saturday. And not because more reporters were interested in following the Crimson’s on-the-field story. Instead, they were more concerned with the story that has dominated headlines for weeks now: the Government 1310 cheating scandal.

The issue was alluded to in the very first question posed to Harvard coach Tim Murphy, and the barrage of questions didn’t subside until the press conference’s conclusion. Below, we have transcribed all of the back-and-forths between reporters and the football team regarding the scandal. Naturally, thanks in part to Murphy’s ability to artfully answer—and evade—questions as necessary, that presented some interesting and at times humorous situations.

Reporter: “Tim, could you just talk about the week, the anticipation, and all the other distractions.”

Murphy: “What distractions?”

Reporter: “I don’t know, the soccer team?”

Murphy: “I think any time you start the season as relatively late as we do in the Ivy League, there’s tremendous anticipation because we’re seeing so much football from the end of August on, so it was great to play, it was great to get a win, it was great to come out of it relatively unscathed physically, and [I’m] just really proud of our kids. They played with a lot of poise, they played with a little bit of adversity, and hopefully those things will make us stronger going forward.”

Reporter: “Can you be more specific about the adversity part of it?”

Murphy: “Well, I know the question everyone wants to ask, and I’ll just answer it as best I can. I’ve been fortunate to coach at a lot of different types of schools. Probably can’t get three more different schools as a head coach than being the head coach at Maine, Cincinnati, and Harvard. And I’ll say this: Harvard kids aren’t good kids; they’re great kids. 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. But I’ve never been around greater character kids here than we have here. Amazing kids. And that’s a huge part of the admissions process; everyone that applies here is relatively brilliant. So what’s the cutoff, how do you make the cut? You recruit great, admit great character kids.”

***

Reporter: “Coach, to your knowledge, are any of the players on your original football roster being investigated in this academic investigation, plagiarism case we talked about? Have any left school?”

Murphy: “As you probably know, because of the privacy laws governing student records, we’re not allowed to talk about that, and I know that may frustrate people, but that’s the truth. We’re not allowed to talk about the academic records and/or status of any of our kids. It’s protected by—I forget what the actual statute is—but we’re not allowed to talk about it.”

Reporter: “Was there any impact on the roster or the depth chart?”

Murphy: “Well, people have asked me that, and the thing I’ve told them is, to my knowledge, all 24 of our starters that came out of spring ball and are coming into preseason—all of them were in a good academic standing.”

Reporter: “Can you also say whether or not there’s any impact on your preparation for the game because of that—?”

Murphy: “You know, there really wasn’t, for this simple reason: If we had a situation, if we didn’t have a situation, it’s all about focus. We talk about it all the time. We talk about two things: adversity and focus. And the thing we really pride ourselves on is no matter what’s happening around us—whether there is, isn’t, whether it’s injuries, whether it’s any of the things you folks talk about, it’s all about focus, not making excuses, getting prepared to play, and dealing with whatever adversity comes our way. We talk about, ‘Hey, you’ve got to not only expect but embrace if our first-team quarterback goes down on the first play of the game. He’s done for the year.’ Two years ago, we were down to our third quarterback after two games. So these are things we focus on constantly: Dealing with adversity and being a tough, resilient team.”

***

Reporter: “Treavor [Scales], can you kind of talk about the past week, what it’s been like given the distractions that the coach was talking about? From the players' standpoint.”

Scales: “You know, like Coach said, you deal with adversity. We’ve gone through adversity training with our training regimen in the offseason. We’re up so early in the morning walking across in what seems to me like, being from Georgia, six feet of snow. It’s something you train for throughout the offseason—any adversity that comes your way, you put your head down, you bite down, and you grind through it. So we’ve had that mentality as a team. And distractions, adversity, whatever you call it, we powered through, and I’m proud of that.”

***

Reporter: “Coach, I think you can answer this question. You have 119 guys on the roster. How many of them were on the sideline today?”

Murphy: “A lot.”

Reporter: “Yeah, there were a lot.”

Murphy: “A lot. Yea, people ask me, you know, will ask you at times, ‘How many kids do you have?’ And I’ve said, ‘Three in Wayland and 119 in Cambridge.’ So, you understand why coaches don’t get any sleep at night.”

Reporter: “Can you say, I mean, just in number, how many people are unavailable for—”

Murphy: “No, obviously I cannot.”

Reporter: “Even without putting names on it, it’s not...”

Harvard Assistant Director of Athletics Kurt Svoboda: “Anything else?”

Reporter: “I have one more thing. Bobby [Schneider], on campus, there’s quite a bit of conversation about this case. It’s in newspapers, it’s everywhere. How prevalent is the conversation amongst your peers or players [on the team]?”

Schneider: “To be honest with you, we don’t really talk about it. 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, we’re going to fight through, we’re going to keep pushing, team morale is high, coming off this victory. We’re just going to keep going, keep pushing through. It’s not affecting us. We’ll be all right.”