Yale football coach Tom Williams resigned on Wednesday in what he described as an attempt to "clear the record" on the controversy around his Rhodes Scholarship status during his time as a player at Stanford.
Williams, who advised Bulldogs quarterback Patrick Witt this season as Witt weighed whether to play in the Harvard-Yale football game or attend a Rhodes Scholar interview, said he never sought to deceive anyone about his academic career.
"I wish to clear the record," Williams said in a statement released by Yale. "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."
News outlets began looking into Williams' Rhodes status when it was implied in news stories about Witt that his coach had been forced to make a similar choice as a player. After being asked to check by The New York Times, the Rhodes Trust said it could find no evidence that Williams had ever applied.
Williams told the Times that he had been in the preliminary stages at Stanford but that the interview was not official.
"There was no intention to deceive," Williams was quoted as saying at the time. "I never said I was a finalist for the Rhodes vacancy. The Rhodes shouldn't have any record of me, because I didn't do it. I didn't go through the process. I pulled out long before I got to that point."
Williams reportedly had said he chose to attend an NFL tryout rather than the Rhodes interview, and Yale's alumni magazine listed him as a finalist.
In his statement, Williams said he was invited to a tryout with the San Francisco 49ers during his senior year, and he attended.
"I am extremely proud of my academic, athletic and coaching career," Williams said. "If there was confusion created, I take full responsibility. The timing of this inquiry has been difficult for everyone. At this point, I believe it is in the best interest of my student-athletes and Yale University that I step down."
Yale athletic director Tom Beckett praised Williams' contributions to Yale.
"Coach Williams has been a dedicated teacher and coach at Yale, and his students have benefited greatly from his leadership and passion for the game of football."
The university will immediately begin a search for a new coach, according to a news release.