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Harvard Fires Head Fencing Coach For Violating Conflict Of Interest Policy

Students walk in and out of the Widener Library in Harvard Yard. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Students walk in and out of the Widener Library in Harvard Yard. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Harvard University has fired its head fencing coach.

On Tuesday, Harvard Athletic Director Bob Scalise said in a statement that an independent investigation found that fencing coach Peter Brand had violated the school's policy on conflicts of interest.

Brand came under scrutiny after a Boston Globe story in April revealed he had sold his home in Needham for well over its market value to the father of two students who would both eventually compete on the fencing team. Jie Zhao, a Maryland resident, bought Brand's home for close to $1 million. At the time, one of Zhao's sons was fencing on the team. Shortly after Zhao purchased Brand's house, Zhao's younger son was admitted to Harvard and also joined the team.

As the AP previously reported, Zhao and his wife never lived in the Needham house and "sold it for a steep loss 17 months later."

Brand, who now lives in Cambridge, is not part of the federal probe into bribes paid by parents to coaches and administrators of standardized tests to get rich students into elite colleges. Six Harvard alumni are implicated in that scandal, but no one working at Harvard has been linked to the case.

In an email to Harvard Athletics staff, Scalise said the university will work to have a new coach in place this fall.

"Harvard Athletics is committed to upholding the integrity of our athletics program, and it is our expectation that every coach and staff member adhere unambiguously to our policies,” he said in a statement.

Brand hung up his cell phone when WBUR called him for comment.

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Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reports on politics and higher education for WBUR.

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