The last Harvard cheating scandal was a bigger one for sure but this one is a bit more entertaining.

Zack Budryk of Inside Higher Ed has the story.


A cheating scandal involving a former member of Harvard University’s quiz bowl team has resulted in the revocation of four of its championships.

National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC (NAQT) announced on Wednesday that it had recently reviewed server logs covering the past several years of tournaments; this review found that four team members from different teams, who were involved in the writing of questions for primarily middle and high school competitions, had improperly accessed information that could have included parts of questions used in the college competitions.

“People who are writers for the organization have access to an entire database [to which] people could gain access as writers for high school questions and then see [university] tournaments in which they plan to compete,” explained Marshall Steinbaum of the University of Chicago’s team in an interview.

According to the NAQT, one of these writers, Andrew Watkins, of Harvard’s “A” team (many institutions split their teams for tournaments), had accessed “questions-by-writer” and/or “category” pages directly prior to the NAQT Intercollegiate Championship Tournament in 2009, 2010 and 2011. This gave Watkins, who graduated in 2011, access to the first 40 characters of upcoming tournament questions. Although there are blocks in place to prevent accessing questions even in part, Watkins was able to circumvent them.

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