Late Thursday night, Harvard pulled off the first truly stunning upset of the NCAA tournament, beating New Mexico, 68-62. The 14th-seeded Crimson prevailed despite pretty much everyone thinking that they would be eliminated in the first round. As the Globe’s Mike Vega pointed out, “the Lobos who were picked as favorites by some pundits to reach the Final Four.” In the aftermath of the victory—Harvard’s first tourney win in school history!—one pundit wasn’t too happy. That would be NBC’s Luke Russert, who apparently moonlights as an NCAA enforcement officer:
Remember Harvard, you won because you became like the rest of us, lowered the standards to get the goods.
— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) March 22, 2013
Russert, a Boston College graduate, then linked to a scolding New York Times story by Pete Thamel from 2008 that detailed the men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker’s “… aggressive recruiting tactics that skirt or, in some cases, may even violate National Collegiate Athletic Association rules.” Thamel also openly wondered if “Harvard’s new approach could tarnish the university’s sterling reputation.” That was five years ago, and since then, I doubt any future Nobel Prize winners have decided against attending Harvard because the basketball team is a bunch of dirty rotten cheaters. (Last year, a few players were indeed involved the academic scandal. But, as Gary Parrish of CBS Sports pointed out, “approximately 125 other Harvard undergraduates apparently did the exact same thing.”)
I’m not implying that the Harvard men’s basketball team is as clean as a whistle—no program is—but please, save the moralizing. The NCAA tournament, despite the dour organization that runs it, is fun. For God’s sake, let the Harvard players enjoy it.
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