We recently wrote about the Harvard cheating scandal, a scandal that involved possibly 125 students in a government class entitled “Introduction to Congress.” “The New York Times” is now reporting that two of these 125 students were the co-captains of the Harvard men’s basketball team. Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, the senior men’s basketball captains at Harvard who helped lead Harvard to the Ivy League title last season and a spot in the NCAA Tournament (where they faced Vanderbilt in the opening round), are currently on leaves of absence from the university. The piece in “The New York Times” with its title “Cheating Scandal Dulls Pride in Athletics at Harvard” seems to suggest that because of the scandal, students are less excited by Harvard’s sports teams.
Really? Do any of you really think this is possibly true? Will there be fewer folks at basketball games this season because of the academic cheating at Harvard? Well, only if Casey and Curry’s absence makes the team less successful in Ivy League competition. Will there be fewer seats because two players cheated? Of course not. That’s just ridiculous. Cheating happens at universities across this nation. Is it wrong? Absolutely! Should students be kicked out of their respective universities when they do get caught cheating? Absolutely. Athlete or not, they should get the boot. It’s outlined very clearly in the Harvard honor code. Heck, it’s even outlined on the university’s logo! But people aren’t naive enough to think that cheating doesn’t happen, that some athletes — and not all athletes — do cheat. Bill Pennington, the article’s writer, seems to think we are naive, that because we now know that players cheated we’re no longer going to attend games and root on the team.
The fact is that athletes aren’t the only cheaters in this scandal. Do a disproportionate percentage of athletes tend to cheat as compared to typical students at highly selective universities across the country? Maybe. And there might be data out there in a book called “The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values” to back that up. The book was authored by a former Princeton University president. But give us a break — attendance at basketball games will only go down if the team stops winning. It’s not going to drop because two athletes cheated on a take-home exam. And not all athletes cheat. Some do, sure. But most don’t. Just like the rest of the student bodies at schools across America.