UNC Investigating Literacy Claims

ESPN, January 17, 2014

North Carolina has halted the research of reading specialist Mary Willingham until she receives approval from a review board and is investigating statements she made questioning the literacy level of Tar Heels athletes.

In an open letter emailed to university students, faculty and employees Thursday, chancellor Carol Folt said she takes Willingham’s allegations “very seriously.” But the chancellor said the school has been “unable to reconcile these claims with either our own facts or with the data currently being cited as the source for the claims.”

“Nevertheless, we are investigating all the claims being made and, if they are found to have merit, I will take all appropriate actions,” Folt said. “We also will do our best to correct assertions we believe are not based in fact.”

In a CNN story last week, Willingham said her research of 183 football or basketball players at UNC from 2004 to 2012 found 60 percent reading at fourth- to eighth-grade levels and roughly 10 percent below a third-grade level. She said she worked with one men’s basketball player early in her 10-year tenure who couldn’t read or write.


The school said in a statement Thursday evening that it has notified Willingham 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. Researchers don’t require board approval for research if it doesn’t include identifiable information on the subjects, the school pointed out in the statement.

Willingham’s research work dates back to 2008. The UNC statement also said Willingham had provided the data that led to her findings to provost James W. Dean Jr. earlier this week.

In Folt’s letter, also posted on the university’s website, she said two of 321 athletes admitted in 2012 and 2013 fell below test thresholds used in the CNN report–a 400 on the SAT critical reading or writing test, or a 16 on the ACT–about reading levels for first-year students nationally. Folt said both are currently in good academic standing.

The school also released an analysis from its admissions office saying that more than 97 percent of 1,377 first-year student-athletes admitted through special-talent policies between 2004 and 2012 met the standard in the CNN report. Thirty-four of the 39 who didn’t meet the standard have graduated, are enrolled in good standing or are academically eligible to return.

Folt, a former interim president at Dartmouth, is in her first academic year after replacing Holden Thorp. Thorp left last year amid the fallout of an NCAA investigation into the football program in 2010 that eventually led to the discovery of fraud in an academic department with classes featuring significant athlete enrollments. {snip}

In an interview with The News and Observer of Raleigh on Wednesday, former football player Michael McAdoo–who was ruled permanently ineligible for academic misconduct during the NCAA probe–said school academic advisers guided him to four of the department’s no-show classes in what he called “a scam.”


Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Kit Ingoldby

    The fact that their first response is censorship shows all you need to know about their integrity and that they are scared of the truth.

    • William_JD

      UNC has always had a holier-than-thou attitude to the other schools in the ACC. They’re complete hypocrites.

  • Druid

    This is just a tempest in a teacup. Women academics put far too much stress on literacy. All the dummy has to be able to do is touch pen to paper and make a mark. His agent/lawyer (usually a White guy) will take care of everything else.

  • Lewis33

    The comments over at ESPN are pretty good for diversity filled sports fans. Most say Duh we know they are retarded, have been for awhile now and we don’t care as long as the ball goes in the hoop. Yeah team!

    • sbuffalonative

      The stereotype of the dumb jock, like all stereotypes, persists for a reason.

      • Max Krakah

        it is a racial stereotype. Tom Brady is not an illiterate, but I bet most of his black team mates are

  • They might censor her and squelch he research, but it’s of no use.

    When they try to con us into thinking that a typical black scholarship athlete in football or men’s basketball is really a budding super genius who just happens to have an athletic penchant, and we look at them and see that a box of rocks will get the better of them in an IQ test, who will we believe? The censorious UNC administration, or our own lying eyes?

    • Max Krakah

      And we see how they all end up, extensive rap sheet, bankrupt, heavy drug use

  • bubo

    Places like UNC and Vanderbilt, which are very hard for actual students to get into, are wall to wall with dumb, violent black athletes.

    I always chuckle when some talking head says something like, “you know he’s smart since he plays at Vanderbilt.”

    • Irishgirl

      I just saw a clip on the news that showed about 30-40 students walking on UNC campus. Almost all of them seemed to be white. Of course, these were students who were actually going to class, so it may not be a representative sample.

  • Spartacus

    “In a CNN story last
    week, Willingham said her research of 183 football or basketball
    players at UNC from 2004 to 2012 found 60 percent reading at fourth- to
    eighth-grade levels and roughly 10 percent below a third-grade level.
    She said she worked with one men’s basketball player early in her
    10-year tenure who couldn’t read or write.”


    This sounds phoney to me. There’s no way that many of them can actually read at all .

  • Daniel Schmuhl

    It’s funny how left-wing psychologists will talk about a right-wing authoritarian personality, and we so how totalitarian these Marxists are.

  • sbuffalonative

    Politically Correct research. Shameful.

  • Max Krakah

    Willingham should just put all her research on the web, they are going to destroy her anyway, she has nothing to lose and everything to gain

    • Max

      She has a great deal to lose if she does not proceed judiciously. If we assume that she is a serious researcher, she, like Columbo has to “tie up all the loose ends” both legally and systematically. Her research must be be unassailable both legally against violation of federal or school privacy provisions, and academically by obtaining IRB approval, without which it could never be published and she could be censured or even terminated for “ethical misconduct” or fraudulent research. If any grants are involved it compounds the issue greatly.

      Schools are not only very protective of the doctrines of political correctness, they are terrified of lawsuits or federal fines. Even a professor will be thrown in the tree chipper under such circumstances.

  • dd121

    Miss Folt is “taking this seriously”. Is she suggesting she didn’t know it was going on? It’s her institution. I’m shocked I tell you, shocked.

  • 2eRep

    Literacy is a social construct.

  • Pastor Theo Kawimbe

    I went to UNC. And had a relative by marriage hold the highest post at the school. The problem is in all colleges and universities, but the upper-echelon rednecks at UNC will swear to you up and down this is all borne out of some persecution or jealousy. The basketball program was rife with fraud all the way back to Dean Smith (who was a reprehensible individual). Same with all ACC schools at that time and now who need congoloid talent to market the highly lucrative sports licensing machine. Negroes from Durham are raping the coeds. They murder them too. Even the student body president. But no one will lift a finger or say one word. The beast has rolled over on it back to have it’s entrails removed. No resistance. No fight. Bread and circuses.

  • bigone4u

    Earlier this week I sent the woman prof an email of support, referring her to Amren and suggesting to her that she had a lot of supporters here. James Dean, the Executive Vice Provost caught lying in this affair also received an email from me:

    “Your lies caught up with you on this one, didn’t they? I’ve sent a message of support to Dr.Willingham. The best thing for you to do is resign immediately. The state legislature needs to open an investigation into your conduct and act according to criminal statutues that may apply.”

    His email is: [email protected]

  • GeneticsareDestiny

    “In Folt’s letter, also posted on the university’s website, she said two of 321 athletes admitted in 2012 and 2013 fell below test thresholds used in the CNN report–a 400 on the SAT critical reading or writing test, or a 16 on the ACT–about reading levels for first-year students nationally.”

    No one who scores a 400 on the verbal (or any) section of the SAT should be admitted to college. A score that low guarantees academic failure in college (unless the person majors in black studies, communication, or any similar major, which I suppose most of them do).

    I doubt a person scoring that low could even pass an English major, which aren’t exactly known for their intensive rigor.

  • Irishgirl

    I just saw on the news that the psychiatrist who did the IQ tests affirms that Willingham’s data are accurate. Hopefully this will add pressure on the university leadership.

    • NeanderthalDNA

      This is amazing. Literacy tests can be administered and interpreted by any reasonably intelligent and literate adult (or child for that matter). Requires no Phd.

      What an insult to this poor woman. Did she violate some silent understanding? Some secret but stated understanding?

      What did the educated-beyond-their -intelligence afflicted officials expect when they “went there”?

      Do this study, but if we don’t like the results, yer in trouble!

      • 4321realist

        “Do this study, but if we don’t like the results, yer in trouble!”:
        Right you are.

        Or they’ll get one of their corrupt academics to conduct a study who operates on the basis where he first finds out what results are desired then distorts the evidence to conform to that.

        All leftist academics are liars. Some leftist academics lie more than others. Still others are insane and are happy that way.

  • Funny you should mention glass blowing. As an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, I wanted a class blowing chemical glassware. The uni cancelled it and removed it from the course list. I could have saved the company I later worked for a small fortune if I had been able to learn that skill.

  • dd121

    They are all lying, mendacious liars.

  • dd121

    You’re absolutely right. When did you ever hear of a liberal debating a conservative over ideas? Sarah Palin and her family were mocked to political death.

    • Sarah Palin was about as bright as a small appliance bulb. Her best career path would have been as a waitress.

  • Rhialto

    Compared to the facts in the featured article, “You Can’t Say That Here”, the college shenanigans described in this article are irrelevant. Why should you care if colleges, in effect, have a few students who are semiprofessional athletes.

    What is relevant is that the Liberals have turned colleges into Liberal indoctrination facilities.

  • I took welding and machining classes at Pikes Peak Community College several years ago, and there was exactly one black in my classes. Her TIG welds on aluminum were cracking, so I told her to go a little faster (mine crack, too, and I know it is because I go too slow). The gal’s boyfriend pestered her all the time on her phone to skip class because he wanted sex.

    The only black I met who was interested in picking up a skilled trade was thus still under pressure to blow it off.

    My only electrical problem at home was a 50-cent fuse on the furnace that saved itself by letting a $200 circuit board blow first. I paid with a smile, telling myself that I still wouldn’t go back to renting. The repairman was a white guy.

  • 4321realist

    “I bet most millionaire black athletes are more intelligent than average – ”

    Than an average what?

    Boy are you deluded.

    The above article disputes everything you claim. Or did you fail to notice that?

    “Environment can have some impact on learning and manners.”

    Not enough to matter in the case of blacks. Sorry, but real life gives stark examples of your errant way of thinking. You can take the boy out of the jungle, but………….

  • 4321realist

    You’re right.

    But just look at the difference in white attitudes right now compared to just 5 years ago.

    Back than we would have never seen such anti-black vitriol on the forums as we do now.

    That can be attributed to many things like the community organizer and his minions who utter pro-black sentiments when the situation calls for sharp rebuke.

    Then there’s the vivid examples given by this site and Colin Flaherty, which caused an explosion of white awareness via intense exposure to black hate and atrocities.

    It’s going to have to continue on at this pace for a while yet in order to get the backlash into accepted every day thinking. When that occurs, the least little black on white atrocity that occurs will see the guns coming out of hidden stashes.

    But it also could erupt over night if a situation arises that is so gross it won’t be tolerated any more.

  • T_Losan

    literacy: an outdated vestige of white privilege designed to keep the black man down.

    • 4321realist

      Yes, if it wasn’t for white privilege the black man would flood the world with important high tech discoveries, write novels of detailed complexity on a plethora of subjects. He would dominate the world in Nobel and Pulitzer prizes; his genius in building the pyramids would finally show itself, that same genius that was “stolen: by the Greeks so many years ago, and were so deceitful and clever it can’t even today be explained how anybody can permanently steal or take away anything in the collective mind of a people, causing it to NEVER, ever surface again, nor can a vestige of that genius be found today.

      This globe today would be known as a “black man’s world.” He would dominate and reign supreme.

      In fact he would be so successful he might even close the achievement gap in kindergarten.

      But what can be done when devious whites are hiding behind every tree, every rock, every nook and cranny, all throughout thousands of years of history, just waiting and plotting to spring forth and negate a black achievement?