Gambling is now a part of the already ugly Penn State sex scandal.
According to an ESPN report, former Nittany Lions coach and player Mike McQueary allegedly ran up gambling debts “in the thousands” during his playing career, including a losing bet on Penn State against Michigan State in 1996, when he was a junior backup quarterback.
ESPN investigative reporter Don Van Natta, citing unnamed former teammates and people close to McQueary, reported that McQueary gambled heavily while he attended Penn State (1994-97) and after he graduated. Poker and betting on both pro and college football were a part of McQueary’s gambling, the report states.
From the report:
“One close college friend says he recalls that McQueary, as a junior and backup quarterback, bet on Penn State to cover an 8-point spread against Michigan State at Beaver Stadium in November 1996. The Nittany Lions won 32-29 on a late field goal, and McQueary, who was on the bench, lost his wager, the source said.
When McQueary’s gambling debts totaled thousands of dollars, his father paid them, several of McQueary’s former teammates said.
A close college friend said he urged McQueary to slow down the pace of his betting.
“It got pretty bad,” the friend said. “And it just kept snowballing and snowballing. He was very impulsive.”
McQueary went on to become an assistant coach at Penn State under the late Joe Paterno from 2004-2011. He is considered a key witness in the criminal trial of former Penn State president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, who are charged with crimes related to an alleged cover-up of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case. All three have pleaded not guilty.
McQueary claims to have witnessed Sandusky, a longtime Penn State defensive coordinator, molesting a young boy in the showers in the athletic facilities. Unnamed sources told ESPN The Magazine that McQueary told the team in 2011 that he also had been abused as a child.
It is not known whether Paterno or anyone on his coaching staff were aware of McQueary’s gambling. McQueary was the starting quarterback for Penn State when the Nittany Lions began the 1997 season ranked No. 1 in the nation. They finished 9-3 straight-up and 5-7 against the spread that season.