Drake Group Honors Dan Kane, Investigative Reporter for The Raleigh News and Observer, as the Recipient of the 2018 Drake Hero Award


The Drake Group, an organization whose mission is to defend academic integrity in higher education, has selected Dan Kane, an investigative reporter for Raleigh, North Carolina’s The News & Observer, to receive the Drake Hero Award. The Drake Hero Award was established in 2015 to honor an individual who has helped advance the collegiate sports reform movement. The individual, through her(his) hard work and effort, has created a recognizable impact within the world of sports reform. The individual must have also demonstrated extraordinary effort and a recognizable impact in advancing collegiate sports reform. Dan, through his tireless commitment to quality investigative journalism, specifically his reporting on the long running athletic academic fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina, has been unafraid to tell the truth and report the facts in all matters he covers, making him a very deserving recipient of this award.

Dan Kane

Kane, a graduate of St. John’s Fisher College (NY) joined the News & Observer in 1997. He has covered local and state government including North Carolina State University, legislative corruption, and the formation of the state lottery. His reporting on the state of North Carolina’s secretive personnel law exposed how the state kept much information about state employees from public scrutiny, and it led to a new state law to expedite information-gathering about the pay and performance of state employees. Kane has been recognized numerous times for his reporting including being awarded a First Amendment Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors for work which advances the freedom of information and an Associated Press Sports Editors Society Award for investigative journalism. Along with his colleagues, J. Andrew Curliss and Andrew Carter, he won a special citation for reporting on the long-running University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill football scandal. The same team also won a National Headliner Award for education writing from the Press Club of Atlantic City. In addition, with colleagues Jane Stancill and Curliss, he won the Duke University/Green-Rossiter award for “distinguished newspaper work in higher education.”

Kane is largely credited with leading the expose of athletic academic fraud at the University of North Carolina involving mostly African American athletes in the sports of football and men’s basketball who were directed towards phony and/or substandard classes to maintain athletic eligibility. According to The New York Times, Kane was subjected to “violent threats, angry screeds, and Twitter flame campaigns” by UNC fans in response to his investigative reporting. His reporting systematically exposed a pattern of extremely lax oversight at UNC leading to easy or nonexistent classes disproportionately benefiting athletes.

Drake Group President B. David Ridpath noted, “I, like many others, was impressed with Dan’s on- the-ground reporting of the facts during the entire UNC debacle. If not for the efforts of Dan, his colleagues and support of The News & Observer, this academic athletic scam would likely still be going on unabated at one of our premier public institutions of higher education. Dan exposed practices occurring in Chapel Hill that are common at other institutions of higher learning seeking athletics success: the sacrifice of institutional integrity and embrace of academic fraud in order to advance the Tar Heels brand and achieve athletics success by any means necessary. It takes courageous and dedicated media as an adversary to powerful embedded interests to counter often used claims that college sports is all about education and caring about the athlete as a bona-fide student. Dan’s shoe leather determination against many obstacles to get at the truth and pull back the curtain on the UNC fraud revealed the difference between myth and fact when it comes to college sports and academics. His efforts are a real credit to investigative journalism and freedom of the press. He is certainly deserving of this recognition.”

The Drake Group Awards Luncheon will be held in Columbia, South Carolina at the Metropolitan Convention Center (concurrent with the annual College Sports Research Institute Conference at the University of South Carolina Alumni Center), from 11:30 to 1:30 pm on Friday, April 13, 2018. For media credentials and/or information on attending the event, contact Drake President B. David Ridpath. Contact information is above.


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