Harvard Stripped of Four Quiz Bowl Titles After Investigation Into Cheating Scandal

HarvardHarvard may be the darling of the NCAA Tournament after upsetting New Mexico on Thursday night, but the school took a real punch to the gut in a competition much closer to the school’s bread and butter — academics.

On Wednesday, National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC announced in a statement that it was forcing Harvard to vacate wins in the national Quiz Bowl tournament after investigating a cheating scandal. Harvard will give up victories from 2009, 2010 and two in 2011.

In those tournaments, the NAQT discovered that students of several schools — including MIT and the University of Michigan — had exploited a hole in its internet security to view questions prior to the tournament. Although NAQT could not find evidence that students actually used that information obtained in tournaments, it decided that such actions go “against competitors’ expectations of fair play.”

“Everyone understands at Quiz Bowl that you don’t access questions in advance,” said president of National Academic Quiz Tournaments Robert Hentzel in an interview with Bloomberg.com. “Even if you click on these pages once, it should be obvious that ‘I should not be seeing this,’ and you should click away.”

Harvard’s cheating came to light as an offshoot of a 2012 scandal where MIT was stripped of a Quiz Bowl victory. In its investigation into that scandal, the NAQT discovered a link to Harvard student Andy Watkins. Watkins, however, denies that he used his inside knowledge in the actual competition.

“I am gratified that NAQT acknowledges that there is neither direct nor statistical evidence that I took advantage of my access,” said Watkins in a statement posted on NAQT’s website. “Though I know everyone will make their own judgments, I did compete in good faith.”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Harvard University

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