Fabricated Rhodes scholarship boast costs Yale coach his job

Dr. Saturday

Patrick Witt's Rhodes scholarship interview turned out to be the worst thing that could have happened to Yale coach Tom Williams.

Williams resigned Wednesday after a university investigation into whether Williams lied about being a Rhodes scholarship candidate.

Last month, Witt, the Bulldogs' starting quarterback, was wrestling with the decision of whether to attend an interview for the Rhodes scholarship or play in his final game against Harvard. Witt consulted with Williams because Williams said he'd been through something similar at Stanford while choosing between a Rhodes scholarship or attending San Francisco 49ers minicamp.

Only that wasn't true.

The New York Times called the Rhodes Scholarship Trust to investigate the claim and found that not only did no one by the name of Tom or Thomas Williams apply for the scholarship during the years Williams would have been eligible, no male with the last name of Williams even advanced to the final interview stage. However, Williams had said in multiple interviews over multiple years that this had been the case.

"I wasn't trying to confuse anyone or make it sound different than it was," Williams told the New York Times. "I was in the preliminary stages at Stanford and I had to decide, but the interview wasn't official."

By "preliminary stages" Williams said he actually meant that he was encouraged to apply while at Stanford, but never actually did:{YSP:MORE}

"I wish to clear the record," Williams said [in a statement]. "On the Rhodes Scholarship issue, I was encouraged to apply by the Stanford Fellowship office, which identified me 'as the kind of student who demonstrates the intellect, energy and commitment that the Rhodes selection committees seek in their applicants.' I considered the opportunity, sought advice and was encouraged to apply by faculty members and my coach Bill Walsh, but I did not apply."

So why did he say he did? And why keep up the lie for years? It's hard to believe that just applying for the Rhodes Scholarship had something to do with him getting the job at Yale, but perhaps it did. In any case, lying about it was a quick exit out.

In his three seasons, Williams was 16-14. Who knows whether Witt will get another job, but if George O'Leary can lie on his resumé and land another gig, there's probably hope for Williams.

As for Witt, he decided to forgo the interview and play in his final game against Harvard. It ended up being the wrong decision as Yale lost 45-7, the worst loss against its rival since 1982. Witt was picked off three times.

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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham.

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