What You Need to Know - Matthew Whitaker
Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Report: Acting AG Matthew Whitaker incorrectly claimed academic honor on résumé

Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, incorrectly claimed on his résumé and in government documents that he was an Academic All-American athlete while playing tight end for the University of Iowa football team, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Whitaker played football for the Hawkeyes from 1990 to 1992. He claimed he was an Academic All-American, which meant he had to have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.3 or higher and had to be a starter or important reserve on his team. 

Whitaker’s name does not appear on the website of the College Sports Information Directors of America (also known as CoSIDA), the organization that awards the annual honor , according to the Journal. The only player to win Academic All-American honors from the University of Iowa from 1990 to 1992 was defensive back Jason Olejniczak, according to the website.

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Whitaker, in his biography on his former law firm’s website and on a résumé sent in 2014 to the chief executive of a defunct patent-marketing firm -- for which he sat on the advisory board -- listed the academic achievement, the Journal reported.

The résumé was included in documents released last month by the Federal Trade Commission, and Whitaker made the same claim when he applied for an Iowa judgeship in 2010, Newsweek reported. A Justice Department release in 2009 had the same information when Whitaker left his post as U.S. attorney in Iowa, according to the Journal.

According to Barb Kowal, a spokeswoman for CoSIDA, her organization has no record of Whitaker being an Academic All-American, the newspaper reported. However, Kowal said it appeared that Whitaker was given an All-District honor, which is awarded to players in eight regions nationwide. Athletes selected for All-District are put on a national ballot, she told the Journal. Then, athletes are selected for Academic All-American status.

Kerri Kupac, a Justice Department spokeswoman, told the Journal that Whitaker made the mistake in his résumé because he relied on information provided in a 1993 University of Iowa football media guide, which stated he was a “GTE District VII academic All-American.”

Kowal, in an email to the newspaper, said, “Being named an Academic All-District is PART of the CoSIDA Academic All-America program, but does not make you an Academic All-America honoree. You must be placed on the national ballot and then voted onto the Academic All-America team to gain that honor.”

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