4. ALUMS MEDAL AT LONDON SUMMER OLYMPICS
Eight Harvard alumni and one current student—sophomore women’s basketball player Temi Fagbenle—competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Half of them brought home medals, starting with rower Malcolm Howard ’05, who captained his Canadian team to the silver in the men’s eight. Twenty-four hours later, Esther Lofgren ’07-’09 and Caryn Davies ’04-05 won gold for the United States in the same event. Soon after that, Henrik Rummel ’09 won a bronze medal for the Americans in the coxless four, but it was what happened on the medal stand that earned him an abundance of media attention and made him the target of late-night talk show humor on a number of networks.
3. ACADEMIC SCANDAL ROCKS HARVARD SPORTS
Just days before the start of the school year, Harvard announced it was investigating an “unprecedented” cheating scandal in which 125 students were accused of plagiarizing or inappropriately collaborating on the take-home final exam for Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress.” Among those implicated were a number of athletes, most notably men’s basketball co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, who both chose to withdraw from the College for a year, keeping a year of athletic eligibility in the process. Their departure left the men’s basketball team, a favorite to three-peat as Ivy champions, without its two best players. But the scandal also hit the a number of other squads, costing them a number of key contributors during their 2012-13 seasons.
2. MEN'S BASKETBALL SOARS TO NEW HEIGHTS
It was truly a historic year for the men’s basketball program. After winning its first non-conference tournament, the Battle 4 Atlantis, in November 2011, and earning a spot in the Top 25 for the first time the following month, 2012 saw Harvard reach even greater heights. Led by a balanced offensive attack and a defense that ranked fourth in the country, the Crimson won its first-ever outright Ivy League title, set a program record for wins with 26, garnered its first-ever commitment from a top 100 recruit, and earned a spot in its first NCAA Tournament since 1946. Though the Crimson fell to Vanderbilt, 79-70, in the Big Dance, the team had already put Harvard on the map as a mid-major power in college basketball.
1. JEREMY LIN '10 BECOMES A NATIONAL PHENOMENON
On Feb. 4, the New York Knicks were in danger of losing their 12th game in 14 tries when coach Mike D’Antoni turned to the end of his bench and put in point guard Jeremy Lin ’10. Lin’s 25 points, seven assists, and five rebounds against the Nets sparked the Knicks to a win and earned him a starting job. From that night on, his life would never be the same. After leading the Knicks to seven straight victories, Lin won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award and scored the most points in league history over his first five starts, becoming a national phenomenon in the process. “Linsanity” made the Harvard alum the most widely-discussed athlete in the country, placed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated in back-to-back weeks, earned him a spot in the Time 100, and won him the Best Breakthrough Athlete award at the 2012 ESPYs. Lin’s magical year culminated in his earning a $25 million dollar contract with the Houston Rockets this offseason.
THE TOP 10 HARVARD SPORTS STORIES OF 2012
2012 was truly a historic year for Harvard athletics, which found itself in the national spotlight more than ever before. An alumnus sparked a global phenomenon known as "Linsanity" and his fellow graduates competed for their home countries at the Summer Olympics. The baseball team saw its YouTube video go viral, two squash players and a skier won national titles, and the women's basketball team won the league's first WNIT game. Meanwhile, men's basketball went dancing for the first time in 66 years and the men's tennis and volleyball squads also registered historic seasons. But not every team experienced such extraordinary successes. Despite a record-breaking year, the Crimson football team fell short of an Ivy title. Off the field, an unprecedented academic scandal sent shockwaves through campus and affected the rosters of a number of teams. As the calendar flips to 2013, take a look back at each of these moments as we count down the top ten Harvard sports stories stories of 2012.
10. WOMEN'S BASKETBALL EARNS IVY LEAGUE'S FIRST WNIT WIN
On the same day the men’s basketball team partook in its first NCAA Tournament since 1946, its female peers were making postseason history of their own by defeating Hofstra, 73-71, to become the first Ancient Eight squad to earn a victory in the women’s National Invitational Tournament. The Crimson, which finished second in the conference during the regular season, was led by co-captain Brogan Berry, who scored a season-high 26 points in the victory. Unfortunately for Harvard, that would be the only postseason success it would achieve that season, as it fell to Temple, 64-59, in the tournament’s second round.
9. NADLER SKIS TO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
In March, Harvard sophomore Rebecca Nadler did what no Crimson skier had done before—win a national title. Nadler achieved the feat in the giant slalom at the NCAA Championships, edging out Vermont’s Kate Ryley by 0.38 seconds for first place. The win capped a sophomore season in which Nadler also gave Harvard its first EISA Carnival win in an alpine event (the giant slalom) and secured her spot as the greatest skier in Crimson history.
8. MEN'S TENNIS AND MEN'S VOLLEYBALL ACHIEVE HISTORIC SEASONS
It was a historic season for both the men’s tennis and men’s volleyball teams. Tennis’ winning percentage of .884 was the best of any Crimson squad since 1968 and earned it a ranking as high as No. 16 in the ITA national poll. Harvard won its first Ivy title in four years and topped Virginia Tech, 4-2, in the NCAA Tournament’s first round before falling to Florida in the second. Volleyball also enjoyed its best season in two decades despite entering the year with low expectations following a 9-13 campaign in 2011. The Crimson’s 18-6 record in 2012 earned it a ranking as high as No. 15 in the ACVA Division I-II Coaches Poll—its first time ever being ranked—before the team was knocked out by George Mason in the first round of the EIVA Tournament.
7. UPSETS BY THE KILLER P'S DENY FOOTBALL THE IVY TITLE
In its eight wins during the 2012 season, the Harvard football team outscored its opponents by an average of 29 points. The Crimson’s 394 total points set a modern-era Ivy League record, and Harvard's roster contained the Ancient Eight Player of the Year (QB Colton Chapple) and placed 18 others on all-Ivy squads. But at the season's end, thanks to two stunning road losses, Harvard was left with nothing to show for it. In week six, the Crimson held a commanding 34-10 lead over Princeton with 13 minutes to go. But a number of Harvard mistakes helped lead to four unanswered Tigers touchdowns during that span, and a Hail Mary pass with 13 seconds left gave the Tigers a dramatic 39-34 win. Despite suffering one of the largest collapses in college football history, Harvard still had the chance to win the title in the season’s penultimate week. But a physical Penn squad upset the Crimson, 30-21, to give the Quakers back the Ancient Eight crown.
6. FARAG AND SOBHY WIN SQUASH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
It was a great year for Harvard squash, who had two newcomers—sophomore Ali Farag and freshman Amanda Sobhy, win the men’s and women’s CSA Individual Championships, respectively, in March. Both swept four straight opponents by a 3-0 score on route to the finals, where Sobhy defeated the reigning champion, Yale’s Millie Tomlinson, and Farag knocked off Columbia’s Ramit Tandon to take the titles. The championships capped undefeated seasons for Farag and Sobhy, while the latter earned a second title when the Crimson’s women’s squash squad won the CSA National Team Championship.
5. BASEBALL'S "CALL ME MAYBE" COVER GOES VIRAL
Bored during a spring break road trip, the baseball team decided to choreograph a dance to Carly Ray Jepsen’s hit “Call Me Maybe” and post it on YouTube. Almost overnight, the video—and its simple yet catchy dance—went viral, reaching over two million views within four days. Jepsen herself retweeted the video, as did Sportscenter and an abundance of other media outlets, helping participants earn an invitation to appear on “Good Morning America.” The video also inspired multiple parodies by a number of other collegiate sports teams who hoped to achieve the same fame that befell the Crimson. But none of them did, and today the baseball team’s cover has over 17 million hits.