UNC says college athlete literacy findings are flawed

January 18 00:46 2014

Last week, a reading and learning specialist turned over research stating that college athletes at the University of North Carolina and beyond Chapel Hill cannot read or write.

Mary Willingham, was the whistleblower who provided the information used in the CNN report.

It stated that of 183 UNC-Chapel Hill athletes who played football or basketball, 60% of them could read between fourth and eighth grade levels and between 8% and 10% read below a third grade level.

According to the Associated Press, on Friday, North Carolina’s top academic officer said that Willingham’s findings on athlete literacy levels are flawed.

James Dean Jr. said there is “absolutely no basis whatsoever in the dataset to make any claim about the literacy of our student-athletes.”

Willingham, who worked as a learning specialist from 2003-2010, admitted to CNN that she herself cheated by signing documents for some elite athletes, who could not read or write even close to the college level.

The school has halted all of the specialists’ research until she applies to the university’s Institutional Review Board. Willingham will go through the board’s application process, but stands behind her data and says that it is 100 percent correct.



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Michelle Kapusta
Michelle Kapusta

At Large Senior Editor, Temple University graduate, Philadelphia resident and avid sports fan.

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