UNC-CH suspends Willingham's research privileges
Posted January 16, 2014
Updated January 17, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Mary Willingham – the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill adviser who claims the UNC system is failing to help student-athletes receive an education – says the university has suspended her research privileges.
Willingham works in the UNC Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling, and from 2003 to 2010, she helped athletes in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes.
During the course of her work, both as a UNC graduate student and employee, Willingham researched how university admission standards are applied to athletes in the high-profile, revenue-driving sports of men's football and basketball.
She found that that 60 percent of the 183 athletes she studied read at a level more common in elementary school and up to 10 percent had the reading skills of a third grader.
Willingham's research made the national spotlight last week as part of a CNN report on academic deficits among student-athletes nationwide.
The school said Thursday evening it has notified Mary Willingham that she can't continue to use data with information that could identify the subjects until she applies to the university's review board that governs human research.
In a statement, the school said researchers don't require board approval for research if it doesn't include identifiable information on the subjects.
Willingham said Thursday night that she has been asked to re-apply for research privileges and said that she plans to do so.
Willingham said Thursday night in a statement that the "gap in academic preparedness between profit-sport athletes and students at NCAA Division I institutions perpetuates educational inequality."
"Until we acknowledge the problem and fix it, many of our athletes, specifically men's basketball and football players, are getting nothing in exchange for their special talents," Willingham added.