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Harvard Quiz Bowl championships revoked in cheating scandal

March 22, 2013|By Paloma Esquivel

Harvard Quiz Bowl teams that won four championships between 2009 and 2011 have had those wins vacated because of a cheating scandal involving one student.

A security review revealed that a member of the Harvard Quiz Bowl team accessed information about competition questions prior to games, the National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC, which oversees the competitions, said in a statement posted this week on its website.

Quiz Bowl is a competition in which teams are challenged on their knowledge of a wide range of subjects including history, science and popular culture.

The announcement comes months after Harvard was rocked by a cheating scandal in which undergraduate students were accused of cheating on a final exam. In that case, dozens of students were forced to withdraw from the school after an investigation.

The announcement about the vacated titles was first reported by Inside Higher Ed.

The NAQT said it had no evidence that the accused student, Andy Watkins, took advantage of the information he accessed during competition, “but the mere possession of it goes against competitor’s expectations of fair play,” read the statement on its website.

Two other students from Quiz Bowl teams at The Charter School of Wilmington, a high school in Delaware, and the University of Michigan were accused of similar breaches, though only Harvard had multiple national championship titles vacated.

According to a story about the Quiz Bowl championship in 2011 published by The Harvard Crimson, Watkins served as president of the school’s four-member team during that year and specialized in science.

In a statement to the NAQT, Watkins said he regretted the breaches of question security but added that he competed in good faith.

Watkins did provide a statement, which was published by the NAQT:

I regret my breaches of question security. I am gratified that NAQT acknowledges that there is neither direct nor statistical evidence that I took advantage of my access; though I know everyone will make their own judgments, I did compete in good faith.... My immaturity damaged my much-prized relationship with NAQT and cast undue doubt on three remarkable accomplishments by three Harvard teams... I apologize to my teammates, to NAQT, and to the community for how my actions sullied three amazing years of competition.

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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