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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 JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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