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Harvard Quiz Team Is Stripped Of 4 Titles

BOSTON — A Harvard University quiz bowl team has been stripped of four national championships because a student team member improperly accessed information online.

After reviewing its server logs, the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) organization announced Wednesday that four of its writers of questions for other competitions, including Harvard’s Andy Watkins, “frequently accessed pages on NAQT’s administrative website that contained clearly marked, substantive information about questions on which they were intending to — and subsequently did — compete.”

The NAQT added:

NAQT has neither direct nor statistical evidence that these writers took advantage of their prior access in game situations, but the mere possession of it goes against competitors’ expectations of fair play.

As a result, the organization has vacated the following national titles for the Harvard A team: 2009 undergraduate champion; 2010 Division I champion; 2011 Division I champion; 2011 undergraduate champion.

The news was first reported by Inside Higher Ed early Friday.

The NAQT also included a statement from Watkins, who said, in part:

I regret my breaches of question security. I am gratified that NAQT acknowledges that there is neither direct nor statistical evidence that I took advantage of my access; though I know everyone will make their own judgments, I did compete in good faith. … It is unfortunate, if understandable that, despite the aforementioned lack of direct or statistical evidence, NAQT finds it best to vacate Harvard’s wins and championships.

Another of the four NAQT writers, Joshua Alman, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had been previously sanctioned in February. As Inside Higher Ed reports:

In early February, Joshua Alman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s team was similarly implicated, resulting in the awarding of the 2012 undergraduate championship to Ohio State University.

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