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. Five-star Californian to visit six schools before making a decision

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Four Pac-12 schools remain in the running for the services of the former Arizona commit.

  2. Combo guard becomes Providence’s third 2015 commitment

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT

    Ed Cooley AP

    Drew Edwards’ relationship with Providence head coach Ed Cooley was one reason why he chose PC.

  3. Top 100 Ohio native focused on five schools

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:13 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Esa Ahmad’s list includes Ohio State and two other Big Ten programs.

  4. Five-star 2015 center trims list to five

    Aug 28, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Diamond Stone has cut his list to five schools, but just one has also offered friend Malik Newman.

  5. Montana State freshman won’t enroll this semester

    Aug 28, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT

    Eric Evans/Oregon Athletics Eric Evans/Oregon Athletics

    6-foot-10 forward/center Kavell Bigby-Williams would have given the Bobcats some additional size in the paint.

  6. Dismissed Maryland center finds a new school

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:49 PM EDT

    Bruce Pearl AP

    Trayvon Reed, who was dismissed from the Maryland program following his arrest on multiple charges earlier this summer, will enroll at Auburn in December.

  7. Former coach in King James AAU program sentenced to 15 years for Ponzi scheme

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:43 PM EDT

    Glen Galemmo coached a talented group, including Duke-bound Luke Kennard (AP) Glen Galemmo coached a talented group, including Duke-bound Luke Kennard (AP)

    There are already five players on the team Galemmo coached that have committed to high major programs.

  8. American extends head coach Mike Brennan’s contract

    Aug 28, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    He deserved it after the season his Eagle team had.

  9. Domestic dispute led Anthony Johnson to withdraw from Charleston search

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    There’s now a reason why Charleston couldn’t hire their most famous alum.

  10. DePaul’s Purnell loses fifth recruit that signed letter of intent

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:02 PM EDT

    Oliver Purnell AP

    He’s only been at DePaul for four years.

  11. Kansas State lands sleeper, their second commitment in 2015 class

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

    Bruce Weber AP

    The Wildcats pulled a player off of a loaded AAU team’s bench.

  12. Five-star 2015 power forward trims list to three

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:04 PM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    One of the three remaining schools for Henry Ellenson added his older brother to the program in the spring.

  13. 2017 point guard verbally commits to Arizona State

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:36 PM EDT

    sendek AP

    Markus Howard decides to remain in the “Valley of the Sun” for college.

  14. Atlantic 10 releases schedule, Dayton to visit VCU on February 28

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    NBC Sports Network will broadcast 33 Atlantic 10 games.

  15. ACC unveils schedule, defending champion Virginia gets Duke, UNC once apiece

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:40 PM EDT

    Tony Bennett AP

    While there are still some non-conference schedules to complete, the ACC conference schedule is loaded with quality matchups.

  16. Foot injury to sideline San Diego State freshman 3-4 months

    Aug 27, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT

    Steve Fisher AP

    Zylan Cheatham joins fellow freshman Malik Pope on the sidelines, with the latter still working to rehab a leg he broke twice while in high school.

  17. College of Charleston coaching search takes another turn

    Aug 27, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Mike Young AP

    With their two finalists having removed their names from consideration, the College of Charleston is back to square one in its search for a new head coach.