Days before Saturday’s season opener against the University of San Diego, the Harvard football team is grappling with the ramifications of the Government 1310 cheating scandal.
“With the whole investigation going on, we realize that there are possibilities that our team is going to miss a few players,” said one member of the football team, who was granted anonymity by The Crimson since he said he feared punishment from his coaches.
Though the Administrative Board’s investigation may last for several months, the football team has already taken actions internally which included a discussion of the issue at a recent team meeting.
“Coaches are taking certain steps to prepare us for the worst,” said another player, also granted anonymity by The Crimson.
Punishments for academic dishonesty can either maintain or remove a student’s “good standing” at the College.
Sanctions that do not change a student’s status at the College, and which would not affect a varsity athlete’s ability to compete, include a grade reduction, a failing grade on the assignment in question, or a transcript mark equivalent to no credit for the course.
But sanctions that do take a student out of “good standing,” and which may jeopardize a varsity athlete’s season, include a probationary period or a requirement to withdraw.
Some football players have said that coaches, expecting the loss of at least one major contributor on offense, are beginning to rethink strategy and the starting lineup. The reshuffling has also created opportunities for other players to assume greater roles on the team.
“[As a result of the investigation], there are guys at all positions on this team who are getting a chance to step up when they’re handed that ball,” said a different player on the team, also granted anonymity by The Crimson. “It’s a good opportunity for them to be able to contribute to the team in some way.”
Harvard coach Timothy L. Murphy declined to comment on the investigation Thursday, and Director of Athletics Robert L. Scalise, and Director of Athletic Communications Kurt K. Svoboda could not be reached for comment Sunday evening.
In an internal email between College administrators obtained by The Crimson—which one resident dean confirmed was sent to others of the resident deans—Secretary of the Ad Board John “Jay” L. Ellison issued recommendations to his colleagues on how to advise athletes implicated in the scandal.
He wrote that varsity athletes involved in the investigation should weigh potential Ivy League eligibility issues when deciding whether or not to remain on campus for the fall term.
Typically, if a player takes part in athletic competition before being asked to take a leave of absence by the Ad Board, the player loses a full season of Ivy League eligibility regardless of what point in the season the player was disciplined. Ivy League athletes are only granted four seasons of eligibility.
“Fall term athletes may also want to consider taking [a leave of absence] before their first game,” Ellison wrote in the email.
More than half of the government class played varsity sports, estimated a member of the Class of 2012 accused of cheating in the course. The student was granted anonymity by The Crimson because he said he feared repercussions from Harvard for discussing the case.
It remains unclear how long the investigations, which are being conducted on a case-by-case basis, will take. But another student under review was told by Ellison in a personal meeting that he should expect his verdict by November.
The football team, therefore, would be forced to deal with this uncertainty for much of the season, which concludes against Yale on Nov. 17.
“We’ve come together more...and realized that this is the group that we’ve got, and we have to make the best of it,” one of the players said. “If we can’t, then it’s going to be a long season.”
—Jacob D. H. Feldman contributed to the reporting of this article.
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