Who would have thought there would have been a weekend when Harvard’s basketball team was more respected than their Quiz Bowl players? One won four National Academic Quiz Tournaments championships in three years, and the other just went on a “historic run” of a two game NCAA win streak. However, last week the NAQT announced that they were revoking Harvard’s four Quiz Bowl championships from 2009-2011, following the revelation that one of the Crimson players had illegally accessed future Quiz Bowl questions.
According to an interview in The Harvard Crimson with Andrew Watkins — Harvard Class of 2011 and the accused Quiz Bowl cheat — this is all a big misunderstanding. Watkins admits that yes, he accessed a webpage with Quiz Bowl questions, and yes, he did this many, many times. But, as The Crimson reports:
“He declined to elaborate on his motivations for accessing the page, and would not say why he opened it repeatedly before important games.”
But what Watkins did say is potentially more interesting than what he didn’t. According to the former Quiz Bowler, “A website containing question content was loaded. At no point did I read the questions therein.” So, he knowingly and repeatedly loaded a webpage with Quiz Bowl questions, but didn’t actually read anything on it. The NQBT president calls shenanigans on Watkins though, telling The Crimson, “It was clearly marked, and anyone who plays Quiz Bowl would know, “Oh, I’m going to play on those questions, I need to stop looking immediately.’”
In true Harvard fashion, suspicions were first raised about Watkins because he was much better than any other player. Watkins, now a chemistry grad student at NYU, did “astoundingly well against some of the greatest science players of all time, beating them in their specialty categories over and over again,” according to a former rival. However, the NQBT president says they didn’t launch an investigation earlier because while Watkins was good, “he wasn’t so good that he was really standing out from everybody else.” Harvard motivation in a nutshell.