Quiz bowl team vindicated

The UChicago team was awarded the 2010 Division 1 championship title after an investigation revealed that Harvard cheated in several tournaments.

By Jennifer Standish

The UChicago Quiz Bowl team is celebrating a national tournament championship title—three years late.

After an investigation by the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT), the company which organizes the Intercollegiate Championship Tournament (ICT), uncovered that a member of the Harvard quiz bowl team, Andrew Watkins, class of 2011, accessed information on questions for the tournaments in which he would later play, NAQT revoked four of the Harvard A team’s championship tournament titles and gave them to the runner-up teams. The UChicago team was subsequently awarded the 2010 Division 1 championship title.

According to a statement released by NAQT, the investigation of its Web site’s server logs revealed that Watkins “accessed ‘questions-by-writer’ and/or ‘category’ pages for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Division I ICTs in the periods immediately prior to those tournaments,” thus allowing him to read the first 40 characters of the ICT questions.

Seth Teitler (Ph.D. ’10), a member of the UChicago 2010 A team, said that, following Harvard’s win, he was not suspicious about Watkins’ performance, despite circulating rumors that he may have cheated.

“I was actually very surprised when I heard that…by that point I had pretty much dismissed [the rumors] and made peace with the fact that we lost.”

In 2009 the UChicago team also won the Division 1 championship title at ICT, making them the first-ever repeating Division 1 champions, according to Teitler. Before having its 2010 and 2011 Division 1 championship titles revoked, Harvard claimed this distinction.

The UChicago A team that competed against Harvard in 2010 included Teitler, then team president Michael Arnold, (A.B. ’10), Selene Koo (M.D./Ph.D. ’11), and current economics graduate student Marshall Steinbaum.