This is not the first time someone has accused the UNC athletic program of cheating (the university’s football program is currently on NCAA probation for players receiving improper benefits from agents and academic help from a tutor), but now a current UNC professor is blowing the whistle on the entire athletic department.
Mary Willingham, a reading specialist at the university who used to work with athletes, has accused the department of creating a system where academic cheating is the norm. Willingham says that when she raised concerns she was not taken seriously.
Some of her allegations as reported by The Raleigh News & Observer are:
- She encountered athletes who had never read a book and didn’t know what a paragraph was.
- Athletes remained eligible because of “improper help and tolerated plagiarism.”
- No-show classes, heavily attended by athletes, were offered by the African-American Studies department. Called “paper classes,” they were supposed to be lecture courses, but never met. Willingham said she learned of these when she was assisting an athlete with a paper she called a “cut-and-paste job.” The student received a grade of B or better.
- Athletes were admitted to the university even though grades and testing showed they were not capable of handling college-level work.
Now, let’s be serious about major universities and their athletic departments. These young student athletes are not recruited to these universities because of their academic prowess. These athletes are recruited to these schools in hopes that their athletic talents will help their respective team win, and winning brings money. These schools make millions and millions of dollars off of these athletes who in return get a “free education.” I was an athlete in college. I experienced the schedule. Class in the morning, practice, lifting, study hall, meetings, maybe an evening class or lab…and I didn’t even participate in a “major” college sport like football or basketball (their schedules are much harder with rigorous travel schedules and appearances.) Academics clearly take a back seat. When you have athletic programs bringing is as much as $93 million in total revenue and academics little to nothing, what do you expect? The system of the academic coddling of athletes happens everywhere, not just UNC, and it’s not going anywhere. The numbers, $93 million vs. $0, simply won’t allow it. It PAYS to keep them eligible.
An investigation into Chapel Hill’s academic fraud accusations has been launched by the governor, and the NCAA is reportedly closely monitoring the situation.