A Yale quarterback who missed an interview for the Rhodes scholarship when it coincided with "The Game" has denied a New York Times report claiming the Rhodes program had already suspended his candidacy.
Bulldog signal-caller Patrick Witt received national acclaim when he publicly declined the Rhodes interview in order to lead his team against archrivals Harvard. But the Times published a story yesterday stating that "a fellow student had accused Witt of sexual assault," though no "formal complaint" was ever lodged with the university and the student declined to go to police.
The accusation, the Times reported, resulted in the Rhodes Trust suspending Witt's candidacy "several days" before his scheduled interview.
Witt has responded with a public statement issued by his representation (obtained by Deadspin) that denies the Times' connection between the accusation and his withdrawal from the Rhodes program, calling the assault claim "an informal complaint process that had concluded on campus weeks prior to his withdrawal – a process that yielded no disciplinary measures, formal reports, or referrals to higher authorities." The statement also asserts Witt's withdrawal was entirely voluntary. The statement reads in part:
To be clear, Patrick's Rhodes candidacy was never "suspended", as the article suggests, and his official record at Yale contains no disciplinary issues.According to the Times, a female student had gone to the school's Sexual Assault Harassment and Response and Education Center last September claiming that Witt "had assaulted her in her dormitory room." The student then registered the informal complaint with the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct.
Patrick formally withdrew his candidacy for the Rhodes Scholarship on Sunday, November 13, in an email to both the Regional Secretary and the American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust. He withdrew after being informed in an email from the Regional Secretary on November 8 that the Rhodes Committee would not reschedule Patrick's final interview, which would overlap Yale's football game versus Harvard on November 19 ...
As this decision process unfolded, Patrick became aware that an anonymous source had contacted the Rhodes Trust with false information purporting to reference an informal – and confidential – complaint within the University. In light of this, and given the short period of time between this occurrence and the potential final interview, the Rhodes Trust asked for an additional letter of reference for Patrick from Yale. By that time, however, Patrick had already informed Athletic Department officials that he intended to withdraw his candidacy due to the inability to reschedule his final interview, and that he would issue a statement to this effect following the Princeton game on November 12 ...
Regarding the information contained in the informal complaint, neither Patrick nor the other parties are permitted by confidentiality rules to discuss details of the matter, though it is important to note that the [university] committee took no further action after hearing the informal complaint. Patrick is aware that the informal complaint was filed by a person he had known for many months prior and with whom he had engaged in an on-again, off-again relationship beginning in the Spring of 2011 and ending about two months before the informal complaint was filed.
The Times offered no account of the Committee's response, writing that "many aspects of the situation remain unknown, including some details of the allegation against Witt; how he responded; [and] how it was resolved."
The dispute over Witt's candidacy comes at a time when the Yale football program is already sensitive to issues of truth-telling when it comes to the Rhodes; former Bulldog head coach Tom Williams resigned in December after admitting that he had not, in fact, applied for the scholarship as he had claimed on his resume (as well as interviews regarding Witt).
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