In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, the two captains of the Harvard men’s basketball team—seniors Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry—have withdrawn from Harvard for the 2012-13 school year after being implicated in the Government 1310 cheating scandal, according to the New York Times.
Unequivocally, it’s a tragedy for the team and for Harvard athletics in general. Two of the school’s most recognizable faces—both on campus and around the country—leave under a shroud of uncertainty, seemingly guilty until proven innocent.
Some opportunistically have taken this chance as an “Aha!” moment. “See!” they’ll tell you. “We knew it all along. These guys aren’t like us! They don’t work as hard we do, don’t study like we do. They’re here just to play some game, not to learn. And this proves it! So, let’s get rid of them!”
Take, for instance, what senior Patrick Lane told the New York Times.
“[Some athletes] avoid academic challenges,” Lane said. “You know you won’t find them in a deductive logic course, but you will find them in a much less taxing sociology course. They sometimes exist apart, and collectively gravitate to the same majors…. It’s known.”
The article also added that “the news could reignite a contentious decades-old debate about athletes and academic integrity in the Ivy League.” In part, it is the debate about whether programs like the Harvard men’s basketball program—which has been accused of lowering academic standards to allow better players’ admission—should be allowed to grow and expand and increasingly become a player on a national stage. All of this, the critics will say, on the backs of these “less qualified” students.
All right, let’s debate. For now, allow me to focus only on the cases of Casey, Curry, and the Harvard men’s basketball team.
And it is here where I turn to that old political sage, Donald Rumsfeld.
“[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know that we know,” Rumsfeld once said. “There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.”
Let me begin with the latter. Here’s what I know I don’t know:
Having never covered a single basketball game, I don’t know what kind of people Casey or Curry are. I’ve never met either, never talked to either. I’ve never even seen Curry outside of a basketball-related event. I don’t know what kind of students they are, other than that Curry was Academic All-Ivy.
I don’t know what their exact situations are with regards to the cheating scandal. As has reported extensively, they’re implicated, but I don’t know if they’re guilty, and if so, how guilty they are.
And since I know nothing about either of those, I won’t speculate.
Here’s what I know I know:
I know their loss is a tremendous one for the Crimson. Casey was the biggest recruit in the history of the program and was a preseason favorite for Ivy League Player of the Year. Critics and players alike, though, have pointed to Curry as perhaps the team’s most important asset. And in that sense, it’s an absolute shame.