Rhodes Scholars, Real and Fake

In another (admittedly much less unpleasant) college football scandal, it appears Yale is now investigating whether or not its football coach lied about being a Rhodes scholar finalist.

According to a piece by Vivian Yee and Peter May in the New York Times:

Yale University began an internal review Thursday to determine if its football coach, Tom Williams, was being truthful when he listed himself as a Rhodes scholarship candidate on his resume.

The move came after The New York Times reported Wednesday that officials of the Rhodes Trust, which finances the scholarships, said they could find no evidence that Williams had applied for the academic fellowship in 1992, when he graduated from Stanford. In addition to describing himself as a former Rhodes candidate on his resume, Williams, who became the Yale coach in 2009, has also been referred to as a former Rhodes finalist in numerous news stories over the past two weeks. Those stories were prompted by Yale quarterback Patrick Witt’s being a finalist for the scholarship this year.

Patrick Witt’s was the Yale quarterback who declined to attend an interview for the Rhodes scholarship because the meeting conflicted with the Harvard game this past weekend.

What’s interesting about this one is that, technically, being a Rhodes finalist wouldn’t help much in terms of being an effective football coach.

Williams worked as an assistant coach at Stanford University, the University of Hawaii, San Jose State University, and University of Washington. From 2006 to 2008 he was an assistant coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. All of these things are probably far more important aspects of his resume, but putting Rhodes scholarship on the document surely didn’t hurt.

Meanwhile, this weekend the Rhodes Trust revealed the names of the 32 American students actually chosen as Rhodes scholars for 2012. Ronan Farrow, son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, is one of them.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer