Saturday, March 8

McQueary's Gambling Issue Threatened His Future, Was Covered Up by PSU

Don Van Natta, Jr.'s latest article, The Whistleblower's Last Stand, missed the bigger stories on McQueary's gambling 

Ray Blehar

As someone who does a lot of writing, it's very easy to get tunnel vision when putting a story together.  I may start a story with a particular focus, but as I'm writing and the story unfolds a new focus emerges.  

Don Van Natta Jr. worked 3 to 4 months on a story about Mike McQueary that was to shed light on his character and, perhaps cause the public to question the veracity of his testimony.  Van Natta's tunnel vision on that part of the story caused him to miss what is the bigger story of the evidence he uncovered -- Mike McQueary's gambling, who knew about it, and its possible impact.

The story of McQueary's gambling was not news to me.  I had learned about it early in my investigation and, in fact, tweeted about it in June 2013, noting that it could have been used as leverage by the OAG.  

Under the NCAA rules, McQueary could have been ruled as an ineligible player for gambling and, with that ruling, would come the potential for the NCAA to vacate PSU wins in games in which he participated.  Similarly, coaches are also forbidden from gambling on sports, thus if it was revealed Mike gambled as a PSU assistant, it could have ended his coaching career.

Leverage?  You bet.

Did the OAG know of McQueary's gambling?  

I don't have definitive, smoking gun evidence of that fact.  

But if they did know, would that not be information that should have been provided to defense counsel as discovery?  And would that information have been used by the defense counsel in an attempt to impeach McQueary's credibility as a witness in the Sandusky case?  

Erickson and Others at PSU Knew
Erickson: Told about McQueary's gambling
Gambling can become a problem and, according to information uncovered in my investigation, PSU President Rodney Erickson was informed of McQueary's "gambling debt" on or about January 2012, which coincides with the time frame of Louis Freeh's investigation.  

Evidence also indicates that McQueary's gambling was known by "secretaries" in the athletic department.

Obviously, it then becomes possible that PSU could have used his gambling issue to leverage Mike to stick to his story on telling Joe the incident was sexual in nature.  Let's face it; the school had just fired an iconic coach based on the grand jury presentment that hinged on McQueary's testimony.  They needed to justify the firing and they needed Mike to stick to his guns on what he told Joe.

This brings up some other interesting possibilities.

Did PSU promise Mike a coaching position with the new staff?  
Did they renege on the promise?  
Did their reneging give rise to Mike's whistleblower lawsuit?

All interesting questions that only PSU and Mike might answer.  And we might get those answers during the Paterno v. NCAA lawsuit.  

However, a couple other questions arise here....

Were there more violations than McQueary's gambling?
Was signing the consent decree to avoid an NCAA investigation?

After Van Natta "broke the story" of McQueary's gambling, many asked how or why Louis Freeh didn't learn this in his $8.8 million dollar investigation.  Or perhaps he learned it, but covered it up also.

The Freeh Investigation
As reported on this blog many times, Louis Freeh was identified and recommended for the PSU investigation by Governor Tom Corbett, who commented:

Governor Corbett
"And I think one of the reasons that someone like Mr. Freeh was appointed is because he understands the role of a grand jury investigation, the role of the prosecutors and will work well with the attorney general's office and Attorney General Linda Kelly so that [obstruction of the attorney general's investigation] does not happen."

The words could not be plainer -- Freeh was not to do anything that would obstruct or undermine the prosecution of Sandusky or the ongoing investigation of PSU's two administrators (Curley and Schultz).

Kenneth Frazier
The public was assured by PSU BOT member Kenneth Frazier that Penn State would fully cooperate with "Judge Freeh's" investigation, stating:

"No one is above scrutiny.  He has complete rein to follow any lead, to look into every corner of the university to get to the bottom of what happened and then to make recommendations that will help ensure that it never happens again."

If Frazier was being honest, then we have to believe that Erickson would have informed Freeh about McQueary's gambling.  

And if Freeh learned of McQueary's gambling issue, why didn't that get mentioned in his report?  McQueary was the pivotal witness in the takedown of Paterno and the PSU administrators.  Are we to believe that Freeh, a former prosecutor, wouldn't consider McQueary's gambling issue to be significant to assess the reliability of his testimony, given what was at stake if that information became public knowledge?  Why did Freeh leave that fact out if he knew?

Was the Commonwealth's star witness above scrutiny?

Freeh needs to come to PSU and answer some hard questions.  If he ducks coming to PSU to answer the questions, then we'll have to wait until the Paterno and/or Spanier lawsuit to find out what Freeh knew.

Don Van Natta Jr. and ESPN completely whiffed on the significance of McQueary's gambling.  It's unlikely ESPN will revisit the story, but I suspect the topic will be revisited with gusto during Paterno v. the NCAA lawsuit. 


  1. The gambling will surely be used against McQueary in his whistleblower suit.

    However, I don't see how the NCAA would care, and if they did, it'd be a minor violation at best.

    1. Gambling can be a pretty wide net and would have expanded the scope of any NCAA investigation. I'm guessing lots more people wouldn't be "comfortable" if the subject of gambling was thrown in the mix.

  2. Well well well - this certainly makes puzzle pieces fit together much better! I thought that piece on McQuery was a total fluff piece when reading it. And I knew media would focus on the "he said he was abused too" part - which was second hand, unconfirmed hearsay about someone that can't tell a consistent story. The focus should have been here - holy cow!

  3. I think this article again brings to light the need for Louis Freeh to be answer questions - on and off the witness stand. To still not do so is egregious from the BOT - unless of course they're hiding something.

    1. By not saying anything about anything would you not assume that they were hiding something? I think the people on the B were lead down a one way street with no possible return by a small group that needs to be removed. It's always easier to admitt, years later that you made a mistake but now the question is," how are you going to change the outcome"?

  4. Too ironic that Pete Rose and his issues with gambling on his own team are in the news NOW.

    "POSTED MARCH 05, 2014
    Pete Rose hits the cover of the March 10 issue of Sports Illustrated"

    So with McQueary, who knew what and when??

  5. John's father knew amongst others. He also knew that if Paterno got wind of it, McQueary would be history. Two players in MM's receivers meeting evidently take issue with the abuse statement that was reported by VanNatta. Didn't happen like that, they say. VanNatta also made a snarky reference to the email CC'd to Spanier in 1998 and didn't state that Spanier was in Europe and probably never read it.

    VanNatta states that he has phone records detailing the exact time that McQueary sent images of his genitalia to PSU coeds. But he says that incident was not germane to the article. What??? He does this incredible piece of investigative journalism, and it gets inviscerated by ESPN editors?

    I've often asked what MM thinks he blew the whistle on. I'll be damned if he didn't blow it on himself!

    1. Gregory,
      Very good points.

      However, I think the bigger issues here are that Erickson knew and that Freeh didn't report any of it in his report. Freeh was carrying water for Corbett during this investigation and he wasn't going to do anything that put the case in jeopardy....

      Like reporting there were no obstructions in the shower room to block the upper bodies of Victim 8 and Sandusky.

      Like reporting that the star witness had gambling issues and other problems that might be used to impeach his credibility.

      Both of these incidents were alleged to have occurred on PSU's campus and were described in the most heinous of ways. No way was Freeh going to throw them into doubt.

  6. This could go a long way in understand how the OAG might have coerced MM into silent acceptance of the words attributed to MM in the Presentment - the words that damned PSU and Joe Paterno to public revulsion and gave Surma and Corbett all the ammunition they required to unleash the blitz on the unsuspecting BOT that ended in a unanimous consent to fire JVP and Spanier.
    If MM was told his gambling transgressions would not be made public as long as he remained the compliant tool of JVP's destruction - it would explain the disconnect between his espoused "love" for Paterno despite his silence. It's a common tactic in use by DA's and prosecutors to co-opt witnesses and hold them to the party line.

  7. It's starting to look like PSU's payoff to V2 (Sgt. A.M., USMC, as JZ revealed him to the world the day you broke with him) is hush money. Get lost and don't talk to any one. It has Frazier's fingerprints all over it.

    If Jay Paterno and others knew of MM's gambling and sexual addictions in 2010, It just shows how out of it Joe Paterno was in his last 4 years, as if any more evidence is needed. There just didn't seem to be any accountability at any level. He was much sicker that anyone realized. MM's sexual escapades also explains why he immediately associated slapping sounds with sex.

    John Ziegler is an interesting bird. I thought that he was just irreverent and politically incorrect like myself. Now, I think that he is sociopathic. He certainly behaves that way. His participation in this fiasco has given him an enormous amount of media exposure..a paparazzi's dream! He could even make a few bucks out of it, but he doesn't want any PSU people in his way. Maybe it takes a sociopath to do what he has done...history is full of people like that who accomplished great things by being at the right place at the right time.