Not so long ago, Patrick Witt seemed to be an exemplar of all that was right about collegiate athletics. Standing out on the field and performing proficiently in the classroom, the Yale quarterback was being eyed by NFL scouts and was a candiate for the prestigious Rhodes scholarship. But a shocking report by The New York Times on Thursday evening revealed that everything may not be what it seems.
Upon learning that he had been named a finalist for the Rhodes scholarship in late October 2011, it seemed the biggest conundrum for Witt was choosing between traveling to Atlanta to interview for the scholarship or playing in Yale's annual rivalry game against Harvard, "The Game," which was scheduled for the same afternoon in November.
According to The New York Times, Witt's decision between his Rhodes candidacy and "The Game" was not what it seemed. In November, Witt released a statement indicating that he had withdrawn his Rhodes application in order to participate in the Yale-Harvard game, but the Times reports that Witt's candidacy had actually been suspended due to a report -- coming through unofficial channels -- that the quarterback had been accused of sexual assault by a female student in September 2011.
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Richard Perez-Pena's article in the Times included reporting by Vivian Yee and Robbie Brown. Yee was formerly the editor-in-chief at the Yale Daily News, the nation's oldest college daily paper. According to an article by Alex Klein on JimRomensko.com, the Yale Daily News was aware of the allegation of sexual assault against Witt and chose not to report the story despite all the attention being heaped on the quarterback. According to Klein, the News continued to avoid the story even after being tipped off that the Times would be publishing its own piece about the sexual assault and the timeline of Witt's Rhodes candidacy.
In response to the report in The New York Times, Witt released a statement on Friday, insisting that there is no connection between the conclusion of his candidacy for a Rhodes scholarship and any on-campus accusation of sexual assault.
The New York Times story incorrectly connects Patrick's decision to forego the Rhodes Scholarship with an informal complaint process that had concluded on campus weeks prior to his withdrawal -- a process that yielded no disciplinary measures, formal reports, or referrals to higher authorities.
To be clear, Patrick's Rhodes candidacy was never "suspended", as the article suggests, and his official record at Yale contains no disciplinary issues.
The statement also claims that Witt's candidacy was never suspended and that he did choose his participation in the Yale-Harvard game over attending the Rhodes interview, as he had originally stated. Addressing the accusation of sexual assault, the statement reveals that "Patrick is aware that the informal complaint was filed by a person he had known for many months prior and 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."