Athens, GA (Dec 8, 2008) - The year was 1986, and an English professor at the University of Georgia filed a lawsuit that forever changed the face of college athletics. A university president was forced to resign, and the NCAA was forced to look at academic reform in college sports, particularly football.
Jan Kemp was the professor, and the school was the University of Georgia. In 1986, she filed a now-famous lawsuit alleging she was fired for refusing to inflate the grades of college football players.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution gives an overview:
In her historic lawsuit, Kemp questioned the university’s practice of placing student athletes in developmental studies courses. She compared the treatment of the 1980 national football champs to the exploitation of antebellum slaves.
The six-week civil trial captured national headlines, and the seamy details of how a college football powerhouse recruited functionally illiterate athletes led to the resignation of longtime university president Fred Davison. Fundamental reforms at UGA and the National Collegiate Athletic Association would follow.
This past Friday, Kemp died from complications from Alzheimer's Disease at the age of 59. Despite the years of venom she received from the Bulldog faithful, she refused to move away. To many, she was a hero.
Whether the reforms her successful lawsuit brought about have really made a difference is open to debate. But she was not afraid to do the right thing. How many people would do the same thing then or now if they were in the same position?
AJC: Jan Kemp, ex-UGA whistleblower, dead at 59