Skip to content

North Carolina suspends research work of Mary Willingham in aftermath of CNN report

Jan 17, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT

North Carolina Getty Images

A little over a week ago a study completed by CNN took a look at the academic credentials of student-athletes entering college, focusing on their reading levels specifically. According to the research done by correspondent Sara Ganim, anywhere from seven to eighteen percent of basketball and football players at some Division I schools are reading at an elementary school level.

Despite the gravity of the findings this surprised few familiar with big-time college athletics, as it’s been an issue for years. One of the individuals interviewed was Mary Willingham, who at one time worked with student-athletes at the University of North Carolina, and through her time at the school she encountered players who were illiterate much less reading at a substandard level.

Her findings, and that of the CNN report, were disputed by the school and on Thursday it was announced that UNC’s research review board has suspended Willingham’s research work on the topic of the “literacy level of university athletes.”

“Ms. Willingham had said a number of times that she had identified data, and in fact had shared some pieces of it … in connection with earlier investigations,” Provost Jim Dean said. “The (review board) had decided to look into her case before she finally turned the data set over to me.”

He added that Willingham “did not have the authority to use identifiable data because to do so would have required (review board) … approval, which she did not have.”

According to the Raleigh News & Observer Willingham will have the opportunity to meet with the review board to discuss not only what led to her releasing her data but also the steps she would take in the future to “protect her data.” Willingham was recently named a witness by the plaintiffs in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA, and she was also the whistleblower in regards to student-athletes being enrolled in “no-show” classes.

In response to CNN’s report UNC chancellor Carol Folt stated that while the school disputes the accuracy of the report it would take a thorough look at the claims.

Latest Posts
  1. #UMassUnited: Thousands show to support Derrick Gordon during Westboro Baptist Church protest

    Apr 17, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Photo via MassLive.com Photo via MassLive.com

    Five protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church showed up at UMass on Wednesday. 1,500 students rallied in response.

  2. Michigan guard Caris LeVert to return for junior season

    Apr 16, 2014, 10:59 PM EDT

    levert Getty Images

    Caris LeVert reiterated his decision to return to Michigan for his junior year at the team’s postseason banquet Wednesday.

  3. Report: New Mexico State’s Sim Bhullar to enter 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:57 PM EDT

    Sim Bhullar, Barndon Ashley AP

    According to a report, New Mexico State center Sim Bhullar will forego his final two seasons of eligibility to turn pro.

  4. USC guard Byron Wesley to transfer for final season of eligibility

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:24 PM EDT

    Byron Wesley, Jarett Upchurch AP

    After leading USC in scoring last season, Byron Wesley announced that he’ll be transferring after graduating this summer.

  5. Arizona State guard Jahii Carson officially entering NBA Draft

    Apr 16, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT

    carson AP

    Arizona State’s Jahii Carson made official the news that’s been known since October: he’ll be entering the 2014 NBA Draft.

  6. Former Northwestern wing Kale Abrahamson transferring to Drake

    Apr 16, 2014, 6:32 PM EDT

    Kale Abrahamson AP

    Former Northwestern guard/forward Kale Abrahamson will finish out his career in his home state.

  7. UCLA’s Kyle Anderson, Zach LaVine officially enter 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 16, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    UCLA’s Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine made official their decisions to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  8. Purdue center A.J. Hammons will return for junior season

    Apr 16, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    A.J. Hammons AP

    After considering leaving school to enter the NBA Draft, Purdue’s A.J. Hammons will return for his junior season.

  9. It’s beyond time for college basketball to return to NBA’s early entry calendar

    Apr 16, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Jerami Grant AP

    Three years after shortening the time players have to make a decision regarding the NBA, it’s time for the NCAA to re-adopt the NBA’s pre-draft calendar.

  10. Report: Butler’s Rene Castro to transfer to Duquesne

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    The Dukes have landed the for Massachusetts Player of the Year.

  11. Former Alabama player Devonta Pollard receiving interest from Kentucky

    Apr 16, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    There may not be a recruit with a more interesting back story that Devonta Pollard.

  12. Kansas State secures head coach Bruce Weber through 2019

    Apr 16, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    Bruce Weber Bruce Weber

    Getting Kansas State to the NCAA tournament earned Bruce Weber an extension.

  13. Olivier Hanlan to return to Boston College

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:49 AM EDT

    hanlan Getty Images

    Jim Christian wins his first recruiting battle as the head coach at BC.

  14. 2014 NBA Draft: What early entry decisions are we still waiting for?

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

    rodneyy hood Getty Images

    What Early Entry decisions will have the biggest impact on the 2014-2015 college basketball season?

  15. Hoop Summit mixtape for Jamal Murray, Canada’s next star (VIDEO)

    Apr 16, 2014, 10:20 AM EDT

    Jamal_Murray___POTW___Story3

    The next big thing to come from Canada isn’t going to be all that big.

  16. SMU and Gonzaga close to agreement for home-and-home beginning this season

    Apr 15, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Mustangs and Bulldogs are looking to meet in a home-and-home series.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'