CHAPEL HILL: UNC whistleblower to make 2 national TV appearances - WNCN: News, Weather

UNC whistleblower to make 2 national TV appearances Tuesday

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The UNC reading specialist whose data has been criticized by university leaders will make two national TV appearances Tuesday.

Mary Willingham told WNCN she will appear on the ESPN2 show "Outside the Lines" (OTL) at 3 p.m.

Later Tuesday, she’s scheduled to be part of a story on HBO Real Sports at 10 p.m.

“ I was interviewed for both shows and some of our past athletes - football players - will also be heard from, but I have not seen the shows yet,” she told WNCN Tuesday.

She said she prefers not to comment until she sees the programs.

In a CNN story in January, Willingham said her research on 183 football or basketball players at UNC from 2004-12 found 60 percent reading at fourth-to-eighth-grade levels and roughly 10 percent below a third-grade level.

During a Faculty Council meeting, Provost James W. Dean Jr. called it a “flawed analysis.”

The president of the Government Accountability Project wrote in a letter to Chancellor Carol Folt recently that school officials’ actions make UNC-Chapel Hill look like a bully and will make others hesitant to come forward. GAP President Louis Clark said those UNC officials appear to have violated state law when they criticized Willingham. He urged UNC-CH to investigate whether school officials have harassed or intimidated Willingham.

When asked to comment on Clark’s statements, she directed WNCN to

Willingham also told WNCN she has a new website, According to a statement on the page, the website will “take up the fight on behalf of these athletes. It will serve as a portal and rallying point for the college sports reform movement. It will explore real solutions, push the boundaries of the current conversation of reform and mobilize action.”

The university is expected to release an analysis of Willingham’s data soon, though there is no specific date or time yet, according to a university spokesperson.


· Accountability group unhappy with UNC response

· Group: UNC broke state law by harassing Willingham

· UNC provost calls whistle-blower claims 'a travesty'

· Stephen Colbert rips UNC for latest academic scandal

· UNC investigating student-athlete literacy claims, chancellor says

· UNC stops literacy research of reading specialist

· UNC adviser files brief in O'Bannon lawsuit

· UNC president responds to CNN report on athlete literacy

· UNC counselor receives death threats after report on athlete literacy

· Counselor: Some UNC student-athletes read at 3rd, 4th grade level


· Willingham's brief on student athletes [PDF]

· UNC's report to the Faculty Council

· Chancellor Folt's letter to the campus community [PDF]

· Read UNC's response to the CNN report [PDF]

· Browse the data collected by CNN

· Willingham's 2009 thesis: Academics & Athletics -- A Clash of Cultures

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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