Report: UNC Whistle Blower in Talks to Make Movie

Mary Willingham

If you thought Mary Willingham, the UNC academic adviser who publicly criticized the reading levels of student athletes and exposed the university for alleged academic fraud,  was just going to ride off into the sunset, you’ve got another thought coming.

Carolina Blitz has the details of a recent visit to the Chronicle in Washington DC where she discussed her book and possible movie.

This is not good for Chapel Hill, which seems content on discussing the topic as little as possible in hopes that it will go away.  This book and possible movie will only fuel the fire more.

Go to Carolina Blitz for even more details.

Does This UNC Athlete’s Paper Deserve An A-? (Photo)

UNC Athlete Paper

We’ve reported before about former UNC learning specialist Mary Willingham blowing the whistle on questionable academic practices at the institution.

In a recent interview, Willingham shared a paper written by a UNC athlete for an ¨independent studies¨ class that she says received an A-.

Former Tar Heel football player Duenta Williams, says while in school it was known that these classes were easy GPA boosters, but he now feels disappointed that the university could allow the practice to occur.

“That was an easy paper class, you know you could chill, get help writing it, you would get an easy B. I feel let down and disappointed that something like this could take place. I feel angry at myself for allowing it, for having these blinders on.”

This 148-word paper clearly isn’t college level work and in my opinion not even high school level work. Unfortunately the students are the ones who suffer the most from these fraudulent academic practices, because the vast majority who will not go on to play football beyond college will be ill-prepared for a professional career. Isn’t that supposed to be the purpose of school? I guess in this case, no. The purpose is to stay academically eligible by any means necessary in order to continue to generate revenue for the same institution that isn’t living up to its sole purpose. Oh, the irony.

[USA Today]

UNC Prof Who Questioned Athletes’ Reading Levels Receives Death Threats

Carolina Tar Heels

In a recent research report, UNC professor Mary Willingham raised concerns about the literacy rate of Tar Heel athletes.

Willingham’s research, which was published in CNN’s report on the reading levels of student athletes at some of the top universities, showed that of the 183 athletes in revenue-generating sports admitted to UNC between 2004 and 2012, 60% were reading between a fourth and eighth grade level and between 8% and 10% were reading below a third grade level.

Mary Willingham UNC

Willingham, who was a learning specialist in the UNC Academic Support Program for Student athletes from 2003 to 2010, say she has received 4 death threats and over 30 harassing messages since CNN’s release of her report.

“Not people who disagree, people who put in the subject or body (of the e-mail) straight-up hate speech,” she said.

UNC issued a statement this week saying that they did not believe the report.

We do not believe that claim and find it patently unfair to the many student-athletes who have worked hard in the classroom and on the court and represented our University with distinction. Our students have earned their place at Carolina and we respect what they bring to the University both academically and athletically.

University officials can’t comment on the other statistical claims mentioned in the story because they have not seen that data. University officials have asked for that data, but those requests have not been met.

Willingham says she expected the backlash from fans, but she never thought that the university which at one point supported and paid for her research is now refuting it and have distanced themselves from her.

“It’s already available to them,” Willingham said. “It’s in their system. … They have all the data and more. It belongs to them, and they paid a lot of money for it.”

A formal report of the treats and harassing messages has not been made, but university police say they are looking into it.

The UNC athletic department continues to be on the hot seat for academic practices that are standard in big time college sports. Rules and eligibility requirements are constantly being bent for top recruits. Let’s not act like they’re wooing them for their academic prowess. When collegiate sports bring so much money to these universities, you think they’d turn down a recruit that could bring millions to their school because they can’t read? Child please. This is the system, and as long as this billion dollar industry persist, schools will continue to care more about what an athlete can do on the court or field than anything they’ll ever do in a classroom.

I’m sure UNC is trying to figure out any way possible to get rid of Willingham without looking bad and/or facing a big lawsuit.

UNC Professor Accuses Athletic Department of Cheating

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.