On the same day that Harvard won its first ever NCAA tournament game, something else un-Harvard happened: the prestigious school was stripped of four National Academic Quiz Tournament (NAQT) titles after being accused of illicitly viewing game questions in advance of multiple matches.
Now the former student at the centre of the quiz scandal, Andrew M. Watkins, tells The Harvard Crimson that he didn’t cheat.
From The Crimson:
“I had no intention to—and functionally speaking did not—benefit from the content of the questions in any way,” Watkins said. “A website containing question content was loaded. At no point did I read the questions therein.”
He declined to elaborate on his motivations for accessing the page, and would not say why he opened it repeatedly before important games.
NAQT asserts that Watkins exploited a security loophole to view game questions online in the time immediately prior to tournaments.
“It was clearly marked, and anyone who plays Quiz Bowl would know, ‘Oh, I’m going to play on those questions, I need to stop looking immediately,” NAQT President Robert Hentzel said.
Watkins also provided a statement to NAQT:
“I regret my breaches of question security. I am gratified that NAQT acknowledges that there is neither direct nor statistical evidence that I took advantage of my access; though I know everyone will make their own judgments, I did compete in good faith. …
My immaturity damaged my much-prized relationship with NAQT and cast undue doubt on three remarkable accomplishments by three Harvard teams. … I apologise to my teammates, to NAQT, and to the community for how my actions sullied three amazing years of competition.
Suspicious about Watkins’ otherworldly play raised questions in the minds of fellow players even before the titles were stripped.
“He just did so astoundingly well against some of the greatest science players of all time, beating them in their specialty categories over and over again,” Andrew Hart, a law school student who played on the University of Minnesota team that Harvard beat in the 2011 championship game, told the Crimson. “I think people were suspicious.”
The Crimson notes that Watkins ultimately understands the stripping of the titles.
“There’s no question that it was not a wise decision,” said Watkins, who now studies chemistry at New York University. “With better foresight, hindsight, what have you, I wouldn’t have done it.”
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