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April 4, 2019
Dear Members of the FAS Community,
I write to you today in my role as the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which oversees Harvard Athletics.
On Monday, Harvard was made aware of allegations involving Peter Brand, our head fencing coach. Specifically, it is alleged that he conducted real estate and non-profit transactions that involved the family of a current and a former student-athlete. We are now moving quickly to learn more about these claims through an independent review.
Three days in, there is a lot we still don’t know. Our current understanding is that these allegations are not related in any way to the “Operation Varsity Blues” scheme to influence student college admissions decisions at several prominent American research universities, alleged by United States federal prosecutors. Harvard has not been named in that allegation.
The new allegation that came to light this week is against one individual regarding transactions that pertain to one family. I say this not to minimize the concerns that this allegation raises. I take them very seriously. Instead, I want to ensure that we consider them in the appropriate context.
These revelations naturally raise questions about how Harvard’s recruitment practices for student-athletes compare to those of peer institutions. I want to take a moment to describe them for our community. Our process is distinctive in two important ways. First, the applications of all recruited student-athletes are reviewed by the full admissions committee and decisions are made through a vote of the entire committee. The committee has approximately 40 members. Second, all recruited student-athletes must be interviewed by an admissions officer or alumni interviewer. It is my understanding that other institutions may have different practices.
Regardless of what we eventually learn about these allegations, this is not a time for complacency. Where there are opportunities to clarify practices and strengthen procedures, we must act on them, and do so with a sense of urgency. This work is critically important to our academic mission and to the integrity of our athletics program and it has my full attention.
Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences