Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tom Williams clarifies his remarks on his Rhodes Scholarship candidacy

Yale football coach Tom Williams wanted to clarify the level in which he pursued a Rhodes Scholarship as a senior at Stanford in the early 1990s.

Several publications including the New Haven Register have referred to Williams as a Rhodes Scholarship finalist based on his comments that he faced the same situation that Yale senior quarterback Patrick Witt recently found himself in. The New York Times ran a story saying that the Rhodes Trust does not have a record of anybody by Williams’ name having applied for a Rhodes Scholarship from 1991-93 when Williams would have been eligible to apply.

After Thursday’s practice, Williams addressed the topic stating that he was endorsed by a faculty advisor at Stanford to apply for the Rhodes but never went as far in the process as Witt did.

Williams was asked if he was a finalist for the prestigious academic scholarship.

“No, nor did I intend to,” Williams said. “If I misrepresented that, it wasn't my intention. I was talking about making a choice of pursuing a Rhodes and pursuing an opportunity to keep playing football. That was all that was. We just have to make sure we clarify it. These guys (Yale spokesmen) are here to make sure it gets represented correctly, that is all it was. There is no intention to deceive. I never said I was a finalist for the Rhodes candidacy. The Rhodes shouldn't have any record of me because I didn't do it. I didn't go through the process; I pulled out long before it got to that point.”

Williams’ resume, dating back to his days as a Stanford assistant coach and up to his current biography, has been consistent in referring to him as a Rhodes candidate which would be the case had he been endorsed by Stanford to begin the application process.

Witt, Yale’s all-time leader in passing yards, attempts and completions, was named a Rhodes finalist on Nov. 1. However, with his interview scheduled the same day as the Yale/Harvard game, Witt withdrew from consideration for the Rhodes so he could play on Saturday.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice try by you and Williams to cover up a clear misstatement - a misstatement he's been making ever since he got here You're not a candidate for anything until you enter your name or apply for the position. If he didn't intend to deceive, he never should have permitted this misinformation to continue to be published.

11:32 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Williams got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The Rhodes scholarship has been mentioned on his resume for his entire career. This is just like George O'Leary having some fictitious items on his resume which were never noticed until he was named head coach at Notre Dame.

12:48 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

I am not sure that I am covering anything up. I requested a comment from him regarding the report in the New York Times which I posted. I have also reached out to Stanford to get a comment on Williams' Rhodes Scholarship status in the 1990s and will pass that one if I have any information to pass on.

Do I think being approved by a faculty member to pursue a Rhodes Scholarship could classify as being a candidate for a Rhodes Scholarship? I think it's borderline at best but I do think you could make that claim. I would not classify it that way if I were in that situation. Then again, I would also leave my name when posting comments on this subject to a blog.

Do I think the way he represented that when talking about the Patrick Witt situation was extremely misleading, without any question. The point of mentioning his bio from his Stanford days is that they would certainly know if he could be considered a Rhodes candidate before publishing his bio.

Comparing this to the George O'Leary situation is laughable. O'Leary claimed to have a master's degree he did not attain and saying he had earned three letters in football at New Hampshire when, in fact, he never played in a game there is a much more serious situation than determining what level Tom Williams states he was in the process of earning a Rhodes Scholarship.

1:04 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The American secretary of the Rhodes trust is quoted in the New York Times article as saying "that it 'was conceivable though frankly highly unlikely' that Williams withdrew his application so quickly that it was not passed on to the national Rhodes office and therefore did not appear in the database." [double quotation marks are from NYT, single quotation marks are from Rhodes secretary]

My junior year in college, I went to a presentation at which a counselor explained the process of applying for a Rhodes scholarship. I asked the counselor some questions and then went back to my dorm room and carefully read the written materials given to us. After assessing the amount of work involved versus the probability that I would win, I decided not to go further.

It sounds like Tom Williams and I are of approximately equal sincerity in considering ourselves "candidates" for a Rhodes scholarship. I spoke to a college representative and spent several hours thinking about it. I think he did about the same.

1:29 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this situation is going to get worst before it gets better. I am not happy about that. I don't want that for Yale. Jim I think your coverage obvious has been poor on this subject as the New York Times beat you to a story about a coach you cover every day. It begs the question that you knew and didn't report it. That is how your behavior appears. As we are learning from Penn State, It is better to deal with a problem than covering it up. Lying about the Rhodes sholarship is the same as lying about a Master's degree or other experience. The next obvious question is are Williams' other resume items correct ? (GPA, Major, etc.) This is a sad situation for Yale and Williams dismissal should be considered immediately.

1:35 PM 
Anonymous John Walsh said...

I think the Williams haters are making more of this than is really there. MANY have been calling for his scalp since 4th and 22 in 2009.

This looks to me like a misunderstanding. Does anyone really think the Rhodes thing made a difference in whether or not Willams got the Yale job? Please!

I may not be thrilled with the man, but this is just Williams haters piling on.

5:32 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NYTimes Online reports that Pres. Levin has referred the matter to the University counsel to review the facts on this matter. It will be interesting to see how it's handled.

5:34 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

It will be interesting to see how the university defines what is considered to be a candidate. Williams has reached out to his Stanford faculty advisor to back up his assertion that he did go through at least the early stages of pursuing a Rhodes Scholarship.

5:49 PM 
Anonymous Andy Watson said...

I didn't know Levin even knew Tom Williams existed.....or the Yale Bowl for that matter.

6:04 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, I think you are correct that this all hinges on how loosely one can define "candidate." If Williams took any formal step at all towards becoming a Rhodes Scholar, one could broadly call him a candidate, and Yale will probably give him the benefit of the doubt. Then we can expect the reference to disappear from his official bio, but no further repercussions.

Clearly, Williams has intimated if not outright implied that he got very far along in the process of becoming a Rhodes Scholar. He did not correct any of the recent stories which called him a "finalist," which is what Patrick Witt was. So Williams was happy to let others think that he came very close to the final interview step of the process. But as long as he filed some kind of paperwork or took any formal step in that direction, he can probably be called a candidate.

However, if nobody at Stanford attests to his having taken a formal step towards filing an application, this could get worse for Williams. I would not rule out dismissal.

The parallel with O'Leary is as follows: When Notre Dame first discovered that O'Leary had not played football at New Hampshire, they told him that they would retain him. They also asked him whether there was anything else on his resume which they should know about. He replied, "no."

Notre Dame conducted its own investigation and discovered that O'Leary did not have a master's degree as claimed. He was then fired. It was really his denial to Notre Dame of any further problems on his resume which led to his termination, not the original fabrications in his background.

Williams, when asked directly by the New York Times, insisted that he was indeed a "candidate" for a Rhodes. If it turns out that he was not in any formal way a candidate, it could be that the second denial to the Times would be viewed as the more serious misdeed, not the original false claim which presumably has been on his resume for decades.

8:07 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're being too kind. Seems to me that he would only be a candidate if he applied for the scholarship. Thinking about or investigating the scholarship doesn't make someone a candidate, which is what he has claimed since his arrival here.

11:34 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Williams received an endorsement from Stanford faculty in pursuit of the Rhodes, he was, by definition, a candidate. Simply as that. If he subsequently made remarks suggesting status beyond simple candidatecy that just raises another, separate question. As long as he received faculty endorsement in pursuit of the scholarship he was a "Rhodes Candidate," it's simply ridiculous to suggest otherwise.

2:25 PM 

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