On Saturday, Patrick Witt ’12 led the Bulldogs to a hard-fought 16–13 victory over Columbia.
Forty eight hours later, the senior quarterback received a phone call from Daniel Promislow, secretary of the Rhodes Scholarship District 6, who informed him that he has just been selected as a Rhodes Scholarship Finalist. The honor raises a great dilemma: Witt’s interview is scheduled for Nov. 18-19, the same weekend as The Game.
There will be a reception and cocktail party on Friday for candidates on Nov. 18, and interviews begin Saturday at 8:00 a.m. Kickoff between Yale and Harvard is Satuday at noon. Witt, who applied from his home state of Georgia, will need to travel to Emory University in Atlanta for the interview.
“It’s still very new, it’s still very fresh just finding out this information,” Witt said. “So I need to kind of reevaluate. If the Rhodes committee is willing to work with me, in a perfect world, I can interview first thing in the morning and get on a flight to be back in time for the game on Saturday. But I don’t know if that will be possible.”
Football head coach Tom Williams expressed optimism that the situation will resolve itself, pointing to the nomination process of Casey Gerald ’09, who was the last Yale football player to be named a finalist.
“The Rhodes people have worked with Yale in the past with Casey Gerald, having played here and involved in the same experience in terms of having an interview go early in the morning so that he can be back in time for The Game,” Williams said. “I would hope they would do the same thing for Patrick.”
A history major with a 3.91 GPA, Witt transferred from the University of Nebraska, a top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision school, two years ago. He has said in the past that he transferred in order to pursue his academic interests at Yale.
“The description of the Rhodes Scholarship in itself is very much the model that I set for myself here as a student athlete,” Witt said. “It’s a huge honor. I realize what an incredible opportunity it would be and just flattered to have been selected as a finalist.”
Witt was officially endorsed by Yale as its Rhodes candidate on Sept. 19 by a three-member committee after a lengthy interview process earlier that month.
Williams, himself a Rhodes Scholarship candidate when he played for the Stanford Cardinal, who turned down the chance for an interview in order to attend an NFL minicamp, praised Witt’s ability to balance his academics and workload as the starting process.
“I think it speaks volume about his character, not only as an athlete but as a student,” Williams said. “He transferred to here from Nebraska because he wanted to challenge himself academically. I think he’s shown that he’s not only capable but he can excel in this type of environment.”
The Rhodes Scholarship’s application process includes an application, eight letters of recommendation, an official endorsement by the applicant’s school, and several rounds of interviews.
“There is a lot involved in terms of application and paperwork,” Williams said. “You have to keep up with your schoolwork and be the starting quarterback for the football team. I would say it’s a very time-consuming and arduous process that requires extreme time management but also dedication to the final goal.”
Witt said that he intends to study international relations if accepted by the Rhodes Committee.