Patrick Witt: Yale QB's Deception over Rhodes Scholarship Is an Embarrassment

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2012

After seemingly passing up an opportunity at a Rhodes scholarship in November to help his team against Harvard, Yale quarterback Patrick Witt was the darling of the college football world. As it turns out, though, it was nothing more than a sham.

According to Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times, however, it turns out that Witt didn't skip his Rhodes interview because of the Harvard game, rather he was no longer eligible for the scholarship. The Rhodes Trust suspended his candidacy due to an alleged sexual assault incident between Witt and a fellow student.

While no report was filed with police regarding the alleged incident, the accuser made an informal complaint to Yale's Sexual Assault Harassment and Response and Education Center, according to the report. The female student said Witt sexually assaulted her in her dorm room, but the informal complaint process doesn't find guilt or innocence.

The fact that Witt said that he was withdrawing himself from Rhodes consideration in order to remain committed to his team now looks like an embarrassment. At the time, Witt received a great deal of praise from many media outlets for being an incredible teammate, but it turns out he actually fabricated the story.

Witt is now maintaining that the sexual assault case had nothing to do with his withdrawal from Rhodes consideration and that he had already made the decision to withdraw ahead of time because of the Harvard game, according to Barry Petchesky of Deadspin.

Witt is currently being represented by Atlas Strategies. The company's president of image consulting, Mark Magazu, said that Witt did withdraw because of the Harvard game and that the accuser was a woman "with whom he had engaged in an on-again, off-again relationship beginning in the Spring of 2011 and ending about two months before the informal complaint was filed."

Without speculating on Witt's guilt or innocence in the alleged sexual assault, he deceived everyone by saying that he withdrew his candidacy. The truth was that his candidacy was revoked. Rather than the scrutiny he surely would have faced, Witt put a positive spin on ending his pursuit of a Rhodes scholarship and was lauded over because of it.

I can understand why he might not have wanted to tell people the real reason he was no longer pursuing a Rhodes scholarship, but to create a blatant lie was wrong. Simply saying that he was suspending his candidacy certainly would have sufficed, but for whatever reason Witt decided to go overboard.

It's strange that he thought nobody would ever find out the truth. In fact, it's amazing that it has taken more than two months for his assertion to be debunked. Witt received two months of undeserved positive attention and I find it to be despicable.

This revelation is made even worse by the fact that former Yale head coach Tom Williams resigned over the fact that he had fabricated parts of his resume. The most well-documented fabrication was that he dropped a Rhodes scholarship candidacy himself 20 years earlier, but that wasn't the case.

Perhaps the alleged sexual assault is a misunderstanding or maybe he's being framed, but the fact of the matter is that Witt was disqualified from Rhodes scholarship consideration. If Witt had said nothing on the matter then that would have been fine. The fact that he misled the media as a whole, though, makes this so much worse.