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The Rhodes Not Taken

Nov. 21, 2011
Nov. 21, 2011

Table of Contents
Nov. 21, 2011

LEADING OFF
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
SPECIAL REPORT: SCANDAL. SHAME. A SEARCH FOR ANSWERS.
PRO FOOTBALL
  • Remember the 49ers? After eight dismal years, the former glamour team has been reborn—as a band of blue-collar misfits led by an intense new coach and a roster full of NFL castoffs

PRO HOCKEY
PRO BASKETBALL
  • J.J. Barea, the breakout star of the NBA Finals, wants to get back to work. Until he does, he'll be hanging out with his girlfriend— a former Miss Universe—on the tropical island where he's a hero

HEY SIXTEEN
  • HAS A LOT ON HER MIND. THE YOUNGEST WINNER IN LPGA TOUR HISTORY HAS THE GAME, THE DRIVE AND THE CHARISMA TO BE THE NEXT MEGASTAR IN WOMEN'S GOLF. IF ONLY SHE COULD FIND A DATE TO THE PROM

Departments

The Rhodes Not Taken

Yale's play-caller weighed a prestigious postgrad opportunity against—gasp—The Game

This is an article from the Nov. 21, 2011 issue

Amid the burgeoning insanity of college football, the Ivy League has preserved an almost unthinkable détente between sport and scholarship. There are no bowls, athletic scholarships or even away games that cannot be reached by bus. But last week, by virtue of his sheer overachievement, Yale quarterback Patrick Witt found himself at a rare friction point. The senior had a choice: On Nov. 19 he could either fly to his home state of Georgia for the final interview for a Rhodes Scholarship (of which only 32 are awarded annually in the U.S.), or he could remain in New Haven, Conn., and lead his team against archrival Harvard in The Game (a contest that once prompted Yale coach T.A.D. Jones to tell his charges, "Never again in your whole life will you do anything so important"). "I held out hope that I wouldn't have to choose," Witt tells SI. But last Sunday, with Witt's petition to reschedule his interview denied, he was forced to. He withdrew his application in order to suit up for his alma mater.

Scheduling conflict notwithstanding, the transfer from Nebraska had seemed an ideal candidate for postgraduate study at Oxford. Literary and scholastic attainments? Witt, a history major, is an aspiring politician with a 3.91 GPA, and would have used the Rhodes to study international relations. Fondness for and success in sports? The 6'4" pocket passer led the Ivies in throwing yards last season and is now the Bulldogs' alltime passing leader. "I just told him to follow his heart and follow his dreams," says Yale coach Tom Williams. "Don't have any regrets."

Ironically, by choosing to take on the league-leading Crimson rather than fly to Atlanta, Witt demonstrated another Rhodes standard: instinct to lead and to take an interest in one's fellow beings. Come Saturday, to Witt and to his teammates, nothing else will seem so important as a game.

PHOTOGREG M. COOPER/AP (WITT)WITT'S END The three-year starter has never beaten Harvard—and this is his last chance. Could that have played a part in his decision?