Acting AG Matt Whitaker has been wrongly claiming he was an Academic All-American at Iowa

United States acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker played football at Iowa.

That fact is indisputable. Whitaker was a tight end on Iowa’s football team from 1990-1992 and caught 21 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Whitaker even caught a nine-yard pass in the 1991 Rose Bowl against Washington.

Whitaker’s football career has been a central part of his identity as he has risen through the political scene over the past 20 years. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, Whitaker has been incorrect about a significant achievement while he was a member of Iowa’s football team.

Per the WSJ, Whitaker has listed on his biography, resume, and applications for positions (like a judgeship in Iowa) that he was an Academic All-American at Iowa. He’s not listed on the website of the group that determines what players are Academic All-Americans, and a spokesperson for the College Sports Information Directors of America said they had no record Whitaker being an All-American.

Barb Kowal, a spokeswoman for the awarding organization, also known as CoSIDA, said the group has no record that Mr. Whitaker was ever an Academic All-American.

After checking with the University of Iowa, Ms. Kowal said that it appears that Mr. Whitaker was given a lower-level honor, selected to an All-District honor in one of eight regions around the U.S. Those selected in the regions are put on the national ballot, she said. From there, a small number of student-athletes from each sport are voted to be given the coveted Academic All-American status every year.

Related: ESPN’s top 50 college football player of 2018

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ESPN's top 50 college football players of 2018

50. Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic

(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

49. Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

48. Shaq Quarterman, LB, Miami

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47. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina

(Photo by Tyler Lecka/Getty Images)

46. Chase Winovich, DL, Michigan

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

45. Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

44. Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

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43. T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

42. David Edwards, OL, Wisconsin

(Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

41. Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn

(Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

40. Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

(Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

39. Greg Little, OL, Ole Miss

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

38. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

37. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

36. A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

35. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

34. Levonta Taylor, CB, Florida State

(Photo by Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

33. D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

(Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

32. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

(Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

31. Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

30. Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

29. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

28. Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington

(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

27. Devin White, LB, LSU

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

26. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

25. Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

24. Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

(Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

23. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

22. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

21. Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

20. McKenzie Milton, QB, Central Florida

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

19. Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

18. David Sills V, WR, West Virginia

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

17. Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

16. Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State

(Photo by Scott Donaldson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

15. Jake Browning, QB, Washington

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

14. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

(Photo by Josh Holmberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

13. Damien Harris, RB, Alabama

(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

12. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

11. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

(Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

10. Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

9. Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

8. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

7. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

(Photo by David Berding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

6. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

5. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

(Photo by Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

4. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

3. Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

1. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

(Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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To be an Academic All-American a player must have a GPA of at least 3.3 and play a significant role on his or her team. Players on the all-district list must then make a ballot for All-American status and then be voted onto the Academic All-American team. Whitaker was officially a 1992 GTE District VII Academic All-District selection, and Kowal told the Journal that “we know that people over time use terms interchangeably and innocently.”

Is that what Whitaker is doing here? Simply making a mistake and not blatantly misleading people? It’s unclear. Though it’s worth pointing out that lawyers can be sticklers for specifics and detail when they want to be.

Whitaker was named as the country’s acting attorney general after Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired on Nov. 7. Whitaker’s term as interim AG will continue until the confirmation of a new attorney general. President Donald Trump nominated Bill Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, as his next attorney general on Dec. 7.

 

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