Gambling Allegations Against Penn State Whistleblower Raise Suspicions Over A 20-Year Old Game

Former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary is once again at the center of controversy over something that happened years ago.

McQueary is best known as the whistleblower in the Jerry Sandusky case that cast a shadow over the Penn State football program and took down its legendary coach Joe Paterno.

In a column for ESPN the Magazine, Don Van Natta Jr. reports that several unnamed classmates and teammates say McQueary had a compulsive gambling habit while he was a quarterback at Penn State. His gambling allegedly included bets on Penn State games.

According to Van Natta Jr., McQueary allegedly owed one bookie “thousands of dollars” and eventually the debt was paid off by McQueary’s father.

The accusations have led to questions about a game against Rutgers from the 1995 season. McQueary came into the nationally televised game late, with Penn State winning by 18 points, and threw a 43-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute remaining (see video below).

The meaningless touchdown famously led to a angry post-game exchange between Paterno and Rutgers head coach Doug Graber.

But more importantly, Penn State covered the point spread; they were favoured by 19.5-20 points, something that raised eyebrows at the time.

A New York Times column following the game hinted at the controversy by mentioning “Graber chose not to talk about the margin of victory — which didn’t exceed the Las Vegas point spread of 19 1/2 to 20 points until the final score.”

In the video below, Paterno appears to say “what happened?” after the touchdown pass. After the game, Paterno said Graber had a right to be upset and explained that the play was supposed to be a pass to the tight end.

It is unclear if these allegations will impact the criminal trial against former Penn State leaders Tim Curley, Graham Spanier, and Gary Schultz; McQueary is expected to testify. But the allegations may cast a further cloud over the Penn State program that was long considered one of the cleanest in the country until recent years.

McQueary’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Here is the game in question (via

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