September 11, 2012

Harvard senior co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry are expected to miss the entire 2012-13 season after being accused in a widespread academic cheating scandal, sources told Before Harvard's fall enrollment deadline closed Wednesday -- after a one-day extension by the college due to a website error -- the two stars withdrew from school in an attempt to preserve their final year of eligibility.

On Aug. 30, Harvard College announced in a letter that its administrative board was investigating allegations that approximately 125 undergraduates "may have committed acts of academic dishonesty, ranging from inappropriate collaboration to outright plagiarism, on a take-home final exam." The exam was for Government 1310: Introduction to Congress, a spring 2012 class with an enrollment of 279.

SI was able to confirm a Boston Globereport from Wednesday that as many as half of the 125 accused students are varsity athletes, including players from the men's basketball, baseball and football teams. Casey, Curry and one additional men's basketball player are among the students whose cases are pending review. They are facing charges of academic dishonesty that could carry a one-year suspension from school. The Harvard Crimsonreported that an identical typo and similar phrasing that appeared in multiple exams was what triggered the investigation.

Curry's father, Herman Curry, confirmed to SI on Tuesday that his son had been accused in the scandal. Neither Harvard coach Tommy Amaker nor his players have responded to SI's requests for comment.

According to sources, Casey, an all-Ivy League forward, and Curry, a the team's starting point guard, had the option of enrolling for the fall 2012 semester and fighting the allegations, but risked losing their final seasons of Ivy League eligibility if the administrative board did not rule in their favor. By withdrawing for two semesters, they leave the door open for re-admission to Harvard -- and a return to the basketball team -- in 2013-14 once their cases are settled. This March, with Casey leading the team in scoring (at 11.4 points per game) and Curry averaging a team-high in assists (5.0), the Crimson won their first-ever Ivy League title and reached their first NCAA tournament since 1946.

In an Aug. 31 story in the New York Times, Harvard's dean of undergraduate education, Jay Harris, said that the alleged cheating scandal is "unprecedented in its scope and magnitude." Unnamed students in the Government 1310 class raised questions in the Times about whether some of the collaboration on the take-home exam was an accepted practice, and said threatened legal action if suspended. The Harvard Crimsonreported this week that the school's football team was bracing for potential lineup changes due to players being implicated in the scandal. The paper also reported that athletes implicated in the scandal had been told by Harvard's administrative board to consider taking leaves of absence to protect their eligibility.

Amaker, who came to Harvard in 2007 after being dismissed from Michigan, has coached the Crimson to 20-win seasons in each of the past three years, including a 26-5 record in 2011-12. They were the early favorite to repeat as Ivy League champions next season, given that Casey, who also considered attending Stanford and Vanderbilt out of high school in Medway, Mass., was a potential contender for Ivy League player of the year and Curry was expected to be among the conference's best point guards. For at least one season, Harvard will have to make do without them.

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