Cheating Scandal Dulls Pride In Athletics At Harvard

Ann McClure's picture

Six months ago, the Harvard men’s basketball team was a source of uncommon athletic pride on campus. The team was ranked among the nation’s top 25 for the first time, and when it earned the program’s first berth to the N.C.A.A. tournament in 66 years, students and players spilled into Harvard Square chanting and celebrating.

The next day, Harvard’s staid campus of red-brick buildings was hardly one big pep rally, but from the Harvard bookstore, which printed commemorative basketball T-shirts, to the college’s president, who called the team “a real community building force,” the university seemed to bask in an atypical glow of sporting achievement.

But last week, days after published reports implicated the co-captains of the basketball team in a widespread academic cheating scandal that may involve dozens of varsity athletes, the mood at Harvard had shifted.

“I have foreign roommates who come from university systems where there is no role for athletics,” Patrick Lane, a Harvard senior from Beverly, Mass., said as he stood in Harvard Yard. “So when they see athletes cutting corners like this, their response is to say, ‘Good riddance.’

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