Sports | Dec. 21 10:34 am EST
Coaching shakeups

Yale football coach resigns

Tom Williams, the Yale football coach whose claims about his academic record have recently drawn scrutiny, has resigned. Concerns that he had falsely claimed to be a Rhodes Scholar candidate, in interviews as well as on his résumé, were ultimately enough to push the embattled coach out.

One of Williams’ players, quarterback Patrick Witt, attracted national media attention earlier this year when he chose to play in his team’s last game against Harvard rather than attend his finalist interview for a Rhodes Scholarship. Williams found himself in hot water after commenting that he himself had been forced to make the same choice as a college football player at Stanford. “I followed my dream to play NFL football,” Williams said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “I have no regrets about it at all.”

Only two things were different about Williams’ decision. The first difference is that he missed his interview not to play against Harvard, but to try out for the San Francisco 49ers. The second difference is that he didn’t actually miss his interview, because he never applied for a Rhodes Scholarship.

An investigation by the New York Times found that the Rhodes Scholarship Trust had never received an application from Williams. The Times report also found that Williams had declined to correct the record when he was repeatedly described as a Rhodes finalist in Yale campus media, and that he described himself on his résumé as a Rhodes Scholar candidate.

Soon, Yale was investigating the allegations against Williams. Yesterday, though the investigation had not concluded, Williams made the decision to step down. He provided a statement to the New Haven Register, which read in part:

“I wish to clear the record. On the Rhodes Scholarship issue, I was encouraged to apply by the Stanford Fellowship office, which identified me ‘as the kind of student who demonstrates the intellect, energy and commitment that the Rhodes selection committees seek in their applicants.’ I considered the opportunity, sought advice and was encouraged to apply by faculty members and my coach Bill Walsh, but I did not apply. … I am extremely proud of my academic, athletic and coaching career. If there was confusion created, I take full responsibility. The timing of this inquiry has been difficult for everyone. At this point I believe it is in the best interest of my student-athletes and Yale University that I step down.”

Williams leaves Yale with a 16-14 record overall, 11-10 in the Ivy League.




  1. Lion Fan • December 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm • Reply

    and zero and three versus Harvard, which is a big deal for them apparently.

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  2. Believe in Forgiveness • December 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm • Reply

    Memo to Tom Williams:
    Your reference to the Rhodes Scholarship candidacy on your resume did not create “confusion”, it created a false impression — because it was untrue.
    Your reference to being on the practice squad on the 49′ers was also untrue.
    Bigger than both of these – for lack of a better term – lies, is your unwillingness to admit your obvious guilt. You did not molest a child, you did not rob a bank, you did not assault another human being. You made a mistake that has cost you your integrity, as well as the respect of many. You deserve to lose your job, but hopefully you’ll have the opportunity to build yourself back up and try again–next time the right way. But the first step in regaining your integrity and the respect you’ve lost is to OWN this failure. Yes, you’ll be an assistant coach for some NFL team this time next year, but you’ll never earn back the respect of many people who believed in you until you say, in some intelligible form: “Yes, I did it. I shouldn’t have. I was wrong”.

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  3. anonymous • December 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm • Reply

    This is fraud and blatant lies. Didn’t Yale check his credentials?

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  4. Lesson • December 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm • Reply

    This isn’t the first time I see something like this. There’s a lesson for everyone to learn here: Don’t inflate resumes with lies and half-truths. Someone who didn’t apply can’t be called a candidate.

    As for Patrick Witt, I understand he made a tough decision. There are times like these in ones life when you can’t have your cake and eat it… He had a commitment with his team, and I think he made the right decision, showing his integrity.

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