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.