Last year at this time I wrote about the Yale University football scandal, in which Yale's star quarterback, Patrick J. Witt, declined the opportunity for his Rhodes Scholarship interview to lead his Yale squad in a crucial game against Harvard.
Only Witt wasn't scheduled for such an interview. One reason was that the Rhodes committee had required Yale to certify Witt's candidacy in light of an accusation by a female student that Witt had sexually assaulted her.
Witt's coach, Tom Williams, had strongly supported his quarterback's "decision" not to take the Rhodes interview because, Williams said, he himself had turned down a Rhodes two decades earlier in order to play professional football.
Only Williams had never been a Rhodes candidate. Due to this and other misrepresentations on his CV, Williams was forced to resign.
Oh, Harvard beat Yale 45-7.
Yale is an Ivy League icon -- attended by two of the last three presidents. Perhaps an equally illustrious academic institution is Notre Dame, hallowed by its religious heritage as well as its academic prestige.
So it is intriguing that Notre Dame's best football player, linebacker Manti Te’o, has revealed another mind-boggling non-event. That is, Te'o's girlfriend was dying during the 2012 football season, and died at the end of the year, just prior to Notre Dame's surprising success in playing for collegiate football's national championship (where the team was brutally defeated by Alabama on January 7, 41-14). Students, faculty, and administration were immersed in this horrible tragedy, wearing leis in sympathy for the heroic football player's bravery in carrying on in the light of his girlfriend's death (Te'o's grandmother had also died).
Manti Te’o is every bit of the “Notre Dame Man” that Irish fans always speak of. A world-class individual, Manti has always been known for his gracious and humble attitude, his hard work in the classroom as well as on the field, and his tremendous leadership abilities.
Only Te'o didn't have a girlfriend who died.
He didn't have a girlfriend -- at least that girlfriend -- at all.
Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame’s athletic director, defended Te'o as an outstanding student athlete, and the University as well, once the fiction was revealed by Deadspin.
All of which raises the intriguing question -- is anything we read or hear real? If we learn the next day -- after crying over someone's death -- that there was no death, no someone, and we are told simply to carry on -- should we ever mourn again?
For Notre Dame seems to feel that it, its athletic department, its football team, and its star player have no accountability whatever.
By the way, no newspaper or sports reporter had any inkling of the fraud all season, and Deadspin was only belatedly moved to investigate the matter this past week when it received a tip.
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