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UNC academic scandal deepens, staffer says some Tar Heel athletes she oversaw had never read a book

Nov 18, 2012, 9:47 AM EDT

Roy Williams AP

University of North Carolina reading specialist Mary Willingham has worked with Tar Heel athletes who, she says, told her they had never read a book and could not identify what a paragraph was, the News & Observer is reporting.

It’s the latest chapter in the academic fraud scandal at UNC that, despite objections from Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams, seems to ensnare members of his men’s basketball program.

According to the report, “members of the men’s basketball team took no-show classes until the fall semester of 2009, when the team was assigned a new academic counselor. The new counselor was appalled to learn of the classes, and wanted no part of them.” At that time, enrollment of basketball players in those classes stopped, but enrollment for football players continued.

Also among the assertions made by Willingham are that “numerous football and basketball players came to the university with academic histories that showed them incapable of doing college-level work, especially at one of the nation’s top public universities.”

Tests and evaluations of the athletes confirmed this and even revealed learning disabilities that would require extensive help to treat.

Before the academic happenings at North Carolina became major news in recent months, the News & Observer reports that senior associate dean Bobbi Owens worked to rein in independent study classes that were popular with football and basketball players.

Since that move five years ago, enrollment in those courses has sharply declined.

To read the entire report, click here.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

  1. bcjim - Nov 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Sad is the only word that comes to mind. Shame on UNC and everyone who enabled and exploited these kids.

  2. jimsjam33 - Nov 18, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    ” You know what I’m saying ?’

  3. dalucks - Nov 18, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    I am not surprised. UNC has been cheating for decades. They just have less talented people covering up the dirt now.

  4. 6stn - Nov 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    “Student”-Athletes? Yeah, right..

  5. oregonstatesports - Nov 18, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    But they can read and remember a play book!

  6. roverboy1949 - Nov 18, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    1+1= duh?
    slot right,trap25,97red on3,break= no problen!

  7. george3246 - Nov 18, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    Anybody that believes that anything is different at other NCAA football or basketball mills should pull his head out of his butt. Only the arrogant that think they’re too big to be taken down don’t even bother to cover up their violations.

  8. ryanpmcvey - Nov 18, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    NCAA is so lame. Basketball players don’t go to class? The hell you say. Next thing you’re going to tell me is that the sky is blue. Why don’t they just make it the minor leagues which it is and take the “student” away from athlete. You’re not fooling anyone.

  9. yyyass - Nov 21, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    What’s worse is that no Duke players have ever seen a girl naked.

  10. metalarmdad - Nov 22, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    The NCAA’s most two protected programs, Duke & North Carolina, are beginning to get some bad rap on how their programs are run. It would be a shame if they were to get BUSTED

    • davessworks - Nov 25, 2012 at 8:57 PM

      Really? I used to teach at Duke and some of my students were basketball players. They never saw special treatment and they took real classes. We were always proud of being different from most other programs. Unless you truly know better I suggest you leave Duke out of this.

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