Great night leads to tough morning: Harvard stripped of four Quiz Bowl championships

Harvard Crimson guard Siyani Chambers (1) celebrates with guard/forward Wesley Saunders (23) after the game against the New Mexico Lobos during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at EnergySolutions Arena. Harvard won the game 68-62. (Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports)

Harvard Crimson guard Siyani Chambers (1) celebrates with guard/forward Wesley Saunders (23) after the game against the New Mexico Lobos during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at EnergySolutions Arena. Unfortunately, the big win has given way to a big cheating scandal. (Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports)

The first slew of games of the 2013 NCAA Tournament on Thursday did feature some madness, but none of the potential Cinderella teams we love watching so much seemed to be able to break through. Southern, a 16-seed, looked like it might make history by taking down No. 1-seeded Gonzaga, only to lose in the final minutes. Davidson was up big with less than two minutes remaining against Marquette, only to watch Vander Blue drain a game-winning layup with one second remaining.

Then, finally, none other than the Harvard Crimson provided the bracket-busting victory March Madness fans love to hate. The 14th-seeded brainiacs took down third-seeded New Mexico, 68-62, in one of the latest games of the evening.

However, the late-night partying that ensued in Boston has broken into a day riddled with far more than the average, everyday hangover — well, perhaps not every day, that’s a bit extreme, but you get the point.

Harvard is not supposed to be good at basketball. However, the historic institution is supposed to be great at such things as the Quiz Bowl. In fact, everyone involved thought they were great, until a cheating scandal unearthed dictated otherwise.

Inside Higher Ed has the story, via Deadspin:

A cheating scandal involving a former member of Harvard University’s quiz bowl team has resulted in the revocation of four of its championships.

National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC (NAQT) announced on Wednesday that it had recently reviewed server logs covering the past several years of tournaments; this review found that four team members from different teams, who were involved in the writing of questions for primarily middle and high school competitions, had improperly accessed information that could have included parts of questions used in the college competitions.

[…]

According to the NAQT, one of these writers, Andrew Watkins, of Harvard’s “A” team (many institutions split their teams for tournaments), had accessed “questions-by-writer” and/or “category” pages directly prior to the NAQT Intercollegiate Championship Tournament in 2009, 2010 and 2011. This gave Watkins, who graduated in 2011, access to the first 40 characters of upcoming tournament questions. Although there are blocks in place to prevent accessing questions even in part, Watkins was able to circumvent them.

Let’s recap: Harvard’s basketball team won an NCAA Tournament game fair and square, but had to cheat to win a Quiz Bowl.

That’s like saying Big Macs are healthy, but it’s something like apples that’ll kill you — it’s one of those things you simply cannot believe until it actually happens.

Well, in Harvard’s case, believe it: Those folks get down and dirty and cheat just like everyone else.

How about them apples?

MORE HARVARD: Check out how the Twitterverse reacted to Harvard’s epic win