NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Rhodes Trust officials suggest a Yale University quarterback would have known that his candidacy for the prestigious scholarship was in jeopardy because of a sexual misconduct allegation, contrary to what he has said, a newspaper reports.
Scholar/athlete Patrick Witt was the subject of media attention last fall when he seemingly faced a tough decision between a Rhodes Scholarship interview and a Yale-Harvard football game, both scheduled for Nov. 19. Witt chose the game and announced Nov. 13 that he had withdrawn his scholarship application.
But The New York Times reported last month that the allegation had already derailed Witt's chance for the honor and that Rhodes Trust had suspended his application. Witt spokesman Mark Magazu insisted at the time that the application process was not linked to the unsubstantiated allegation and was not suspended. Magazu said Witt chose the game after learning that the Rhodes Committee would not reschedule his interview for the scholarship.
On its website Friday, the newspaper reported that Elliot Gerson, the trust's American secretary, told Witt on Nov. 3 that the trust had learned of the allegation. The paper reported that Yale told Witt five days later that his finalist status was on hold unless the school provided another reference on his behalf by Nov. 15.
Gerson told the newspaper that the word "suspended" was "a very reasonable characterization of what happened" to Witt's finalist status. Magazu said that Witt's version of what happened was accurate.
The woman who accused Witt of sexual assault has chosen what Yale describes as a process that essentially amounts to mediation, the newspaper reported. Magazu has confirmed that the complaint was of a sexual assault but said that the encounter was consensual.
Witt set several records as Yale's quarterback after transferring from Nebraska. He is on track to graduate this spring. He is not currently enrolled in Yale, but is participating in an invitation-only program in California for National Football League hopefuls.
Rhodes Scholars study with all expenses paid at Oxford University in England.