Members of two University of Minnesota quiz-bowl teams who were declared champions after Harvard University was stripped of four titles say they're happy for the recognition but are also disappointed they were were denied the thrill of celebrating at the time.
Minnesota finished second to Harvard in the 2009 and 2011 tournaments. National Academic Quiz Tournaments stripped Harvard of four national titles on Friday after one of its players was accused of accessing questions in advance.
Andrew Hart, who competed on both University of Minnesota teams, said his 2011 team was strong but just couldn't seem to close out Harvard.
"It's awesome. We did it. We actually did it," he said Friday after learning his team is now the official winner. "Now it's like, finally, some vindication."
Minnesota's 2009 title is for its undergraduate team, while the 2011 victory came in the Division I match in which graduate students participate.
Tournament officials said they found evidence that four players "frequently" and improperly accessed parts of its administrative website for college competitions. The organization acknowledged it didn't have evidence that the players took advantage of accessing the information, "but the mere possession of it goes against competitors' expectations of fair play."
The Harvard player, Andy Watkins, said he regretted his immaturity but competed in good faith.
Joining Hart on the 2011 squad were Rob Carson, Gautam Kandlikar and Mike Cheyne.
When Cheyne first heard that Harvard's wins had been vacated he said he felt satisfied. But the satisfaction eventually gave way to anger because he and his teammates "were never really given a chance to celebrate as a team and be honored," he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune (http://bit.ly/YyJELs ) in an email.
He compared the delayed title to being excluded from high school graduation ceremonies only to receive a diploma a year later.
"The title lasts forever," Cheyne said, "but you missed out on everything associated with it."
Hart said he hoped the teammates could gather at an upcoming tournament in Chicago to savor the win together.
"Nobody can take this away from us now," Hart said, adding with a laugh, "unless they subsequently catch us cheating."