Mary Willingham receives death threats for saying some UNC
Mary Willingham receives death threats for saying some UNC

Mary Willingham : counselor receives death threats after report on athlete literacy

A university learning specialist has received death threats and hateful messages after she exposed shockingly low academic levels among revenue athletes the University of North Carolina.
Mary Willingham found that between eight and ten per cent of college’s football and basketball players had a reading level of a third grader.

By studying eight years of test scores from University of Carolina’s revenue sports players, she found that a majority had a reading level between fourth and eighth grade.

In a press release, UNC said it does not believe Willingham’s story that she once tutored an athlete who could not read and that they have not seen the research they paid for.

Unfortunately for the university, CNN has copies of emails Willingham sent to university officials where she shared her findings.

When confronted with those emails, UNC changed its tune, saying Willingham did share her findings and did have permission from the university to do the research, but added a “meeting” with the bearer of bad news has been scheduled.

CNN says it questioned UNC many times about the research before publishing their story and vetted Willingham’s work. CNN also looked at data from several other universities and determined 7 to 15 percent of athletes at other Division 1 schools cannot read at the college level based on athlete SAT and ACT scores.

UNC bring in $72 million a year in sports revenues, but only nets $200,000. Sounds like they need to hire more people in marketing and fewer researchers.

Press Releases : UNC Statement

A Jan. 7 CNN story quoted a source who claimed that a former UNC basketball player was
unable to read or write.

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.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions looks closely at standardized test scores and grade
point averages among many factors in determining whether an applicant is admitted to the
University. That office has the final decision-making authority for all candidates for admission.
The Undergraduate Admissions Advisory Committee, a standing faculty committee appointed by
the chancellor, provides guidance and advice to the admissions office. A subcommittee of this
faculty committee established guidelines and procedures for the admission of student-athletes
and other students with special talent.

The University has been and continues to be committed to offering admission to students who
can succeed academically and earn their degree.

Last August, the University convened the Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group,
led by Provost James Dean Jr. and Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham to develop a best
in class national model of practices that will ensure that we meet those goals.

Agencies/Press Releases/Canadajournal

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