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Witt's End, Revisited

Was Yale QB Patrick Witt's story too good to be true? A new report raises troubling questions

In a year defined by scandal in college sports, the story of Yale senior quarterback Patrick Witt was supposed to be a bright spot. He was the Ivy League school's alltime passing leader, a history major with a 3.91 GPA and an aspiring politician who drew raves from professors. The only controversy surrounding the model student-athlete: Would he lead his team in The Game against Harvard on Nov. 19 or fly to Atlanta that day to interview for a prestigious Rhodes scholarship? Ultimately, Witt withdrew from Rhodes consideration (SI, Nov. 21, 2011), earning adoration from Yale faithful even after a 45--7 loss to the Crimson.

Witt's three interceptions in that game pale now next to his career postscript: According to a New York Times report, when Witt announced his decision, the Rhodes Trust had already suspended his candidacy, having received a tip that he had been accused in September of sexually assaulting another student.

Whether Yale had declined to re-endorse Witt for the Rhodes at that point remains unclear. A statement released last Friday by Witt's agent, Mark Magazu, asserted that the Times story had incorrectly connected Witt's decision to forgo the Rhodes "with an informal complaint process that ... yielded no disciplinary measures," and that his candidacy "was never 'suspended.'" (A school spokesman cited student confidentiality in declining comment to SI.)

Whatever the order of events, this much is clear: Witt's story has become a messy one, which started to show cracks in December when his coach, Tom Williams, resigned after his own résumé was found to contain an embellished tale of a Rhodes candidacy. In November, Williams was asked by SI to recall any advice he'd given to his star player. The coach's counsel echoes as true today as it did back then: "Don't have any regrets."



ELI'S GUNNING Yale's record holder for completions (549), yards (6,033) and percentage (60.1), Witt is training in California for a possible NFL career.