2:24 PM EDT, April 5, 2012
If Pal Schmitt's resignation as president of Hungary over a plagiarism scandal isn't enough for the International Olympic Committee to boot him as a member, here's a little more evidence of the fraud Schmitt perpetrated regarding his academic credentials.
It turns out Schmitt's case is closer than I thought to the situation that forced Sandra Baldwin to resign as U.S. Olympic Committee president Sandra Baldwin when I first wrote last week about what action the IOC might take against Schmitt.
Not only did Schmitt copy substantial portions of his graduate thesis, both verbatim and in synthesis, from sources he did not properly credit, the two-time Olympic fencing champion has exaggerated the importance of the degree he received on his IOC and European Parliament biographies.
In both biographies, he lists the degree as a Ph.D. or doctor of philosophy.
According to the Hungarian Accreditation Committee, the graduate degree Schmitt received in 1992 is a "Dr. Univ," (university doctor), which represents a significantly lower level of academic expertise than a Ph.D. It essentially is equivalent to a master's degree.
In an email, HAC president Ervin Balazs explained the difference:
"The requirements for a Ph.D. are more demanding than those used for a Dr. Univ. Between 1984-93, Dr. Univ. was formally a `university scientific degree' but it was not respected by the academic community as a scientific degree. The `real' scientific degrees until 1993 were the CSC and DSC (see below) awarded on national level by the committee of scientific qualifications. You could not be promoted to senior positions in research jobs or at universities with Dr. Univ. but only with CSC and DSC.
"According to the official translation guidelines of the Ministry of National Resources (NEFMI) being responsible for higher education, the 1983-93 university doctor degree is to be indicated in English as `Dr. Univ.' The post-1993 doctoral degree can be indicated as "Ph.D.'"
Those who received doctor of university degrees prior to 1993 had the opportunity until 1997 to have the degree converted to a Ph.D. Hungarian news reports have said Schmitt never asked for that conversion.
"As far as we know, Mr. Schmitt did not ask for this," Balazs wrote.
Emails seeking comment from Schmitt were not answered.
Back to Sandra Baldwin. She was forced to resign after it was learned Baldwin's USOC biography lied by listing undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University.
She admitted having attended Colorado as an undergraduate for only two years before finishing her degree at Arizona State. She also said she never had completed a Ph.D. dissertation on Nathaniel Hawthorne.
At least there apparently was no plagiarism involved.
There is a wondrous irony in all this: Schmitt's thesis was "An analysis of the program of Modern Olympic Games." He could easily have done original research after becoming an IOC member in 1983 - perhaps as easily as interviewing other members.
Yet some 90 percent of the 217-page thesis reeked of having been stolen from two books, an investigative committee found.
Last week, the faculty senate of Budapest's Semmelweis University revoked Schmitt's degree. Monday, under growing pressure, he resigned as president of Hungary, the largely ceremonial president to which he was elected in 2010.
Even with that, Schmitt continues to perpetrate as fraud by allowing a degree he did not earn to appear on his official biographies.
The IOC comes down hard on doping cheats. In some of those cases, Schmitt would have had a voice.
An old Latin epigram asks, "Who will guard the guards themselves?" It expresses the feeling that at some level, we must trust authority if organizations are to function.
Pal Schmitt has violated that trust as much as a doper.
If he doesn't resign from the IOC - which told me last Friday it would study the case - it has only one course of action.
The IOC must expel him as a member.
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