Search Site

Whistleblowing the NCAA into Compliance

Every mind must make its choice between truth and repose. It cannot have both.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mike McQueary was living his dream. A Pennsylvania State College kid who quarterbacked the Penn State University Nittany Lions, McQuery had climbed the ranks from Coach Joe Paterno’s graduate assistant to Penn State’s recruiting coordinator. In 2011, McQueary even bought a house near the campus, just blocks from Coach Paterno’s home. Currently, McQueary is an unemployed 37-year-old whose college football career appears finished. Why?

McQueary testified in the trial of Jerry Sandusky that he witnessed the defendant sexually abusing a boy in the Penn State University football showers. His testimony began a spiral of accusations which destroyed the edifice of Penn State Football. When Bill O’Brien replaced Paterno as head coach, he interviewed every assistant except McQueary. While on the stand, McQueary said that he cannot identify what he did wrong to lose his job.

The pioneering whistleblowers

McQueary is not the first whistleblower to bring down a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) powerhouse and suffer strong retaliation:

The Godmother of NCAA whistleblowers

Jan Kemp earned her three academic degrees from the University of Georgia. In 1980, she attended every Bulldogs football game, including the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. When Kemp blew the whistle on the academic injustice for student athletes and the children of wealthy donors in 1982, she started a long fight. Two days after submitting a protest letter about grade fixing for 10 football players, Kemp was removed of her supervisory duties. She filed a slander and libel suit which was tossed out of court. Kemp later sued again claiming free speech violations and won a $2.6 million judgment.

Norma McGill and Ohio State University

Norma McGill was a teaching assistant in the African-American and Africa Studies Department at Ohio State University. When McGill witnessed star running back Maurice Clarett walk out of his midterm exam in 2002 and then retake the test orally, and later complete his final exam orally, she questioned the entire student-athlete system at Ohio State. When McGill called on school officials to investigate how student athletes were being treated, she suffered hostile treatment from the department chair. Scared of wrath from crazed NCAA fans, McGill ran to her native Kentucky where she became homeless.

Jan Gangelhoff and the University of Minnesota

Jan Gangelhoff served as basketball secretary at the University of Minnesota. When Gangelhoff blew the whistle in 1999 that she wrote papers for 18 University of Minnesota basketball players, she caused an eruption that eventually led to the resignations of famed Coach Clem Haskins and other university officials. Like McGill, Gangelhoff escaped to a remote location in Minnesota to avoid retaliation.

Linda Bensel-Meyers and the University of Tennessee

Linda Bensel-Meyers was a tenured professor at the University of Tennessee when she blew the whistle on academic fraud for student athletes at Tennessee in 1999. She exposed rampant cases of steering athletes to easy courses, changing grades, arranging tutors to write papers and other academic favors. Despite vulgar emails, threats and other acts of intimidation, Bensel-Meyers remained at the University of Tennessee for three years before obtaining a position at the University of Denver.

Whistleblowing can be complicated and emotionally challenging. If you have witnessed illegal or unethical conduct at work, it is advisable to schedule a consultation with a Dallas whistleblower lawyer to organize a plan of action.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Awards & Honors
Our Office
  • Dallas Office
    4514 Cole Ave
    Dallas, Texas 75205
    Phone: 214-306-8045
    Fax: 469-729-9926
As Seen In
In his new book, "Standing Up to China: How a Whistleblower Risked Everything for His Country," former client & Author, Ashley Yablon, quotes Attorney Steve Kardell about Whistelblower Law.
  • "Steve Kardell was terrific in representing me in some very adversarial discussions with Citigroup and also later represented me in my testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission."  -Richard Bowen, Citigroup Whistleblower

  • "Incredible knowledge of employee related concerns and equally brilliant knowledge of health care regulations, standards of practice. I would recommend this firm to anyone."  -V.B.

  • "Reaching out to Steve Kardell was the best decision I made. His ability to provide immediate insight and direction was very powerful, and a huge relief during a very stressful time period. For anyone struggling with a whistleblower situation, I would highly recommend at least speaking with Steve. After a 10 minute call with him, I had a better understanding of what I was dealing with. Even better, he gave me some immediate hope. In the end Steve did a better job than I thought was possible. Steve was able to get in contact with people in my organization, that I didn’t have access to. Because of his years of experience, he already has contacts in many organizations in Dallas. The entire situation was handled peacefully. I was impressed by his ability to “keep the peace”–rather than creating a battle with the organization. The reason I didn’t reach out to a lawyer initially, was because I thought it would mean an immediate end to any hope of a positive relationship with the company. Steve was able to address my concerns, and in the end I was able to continue to work for them."  -KS

  • "Never thought my career would end like it did after 30 years of service. I was part of the first round of the so called reduction of force. I asked myself how can I be part of this with 30 years of seniority. How did they pick these 90 plus employees? Now, the culture of this organization made you question every decision they made. It wasn’t what you knew it’s was a culture of who you know. Nonetheless, I did not accept their severance package. I immediately starting looking for an attorney who would take on my case. After the initial call to Steve I had hope again. He was open and honest about everything and reassured me he would do his best for me, and he did. I had an awesome outcome. Thanks Steve you’re the best."  -S.S.