After a controversial report on student-athlete literacy by a faculty member at the University of North Carolina, the school has tried to distance itself from claims that one former UNC basketball player was unable to read or write, CNN reports.
The student’s story first appeared in a CNN report on UNC instructor Mary Willingham’s research, which found that 60% of the school’s student-athletes read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. In a university statement Wednesday, UNC officials stated:
We do not believe that claim and find it patently unfair to the many student-athletes who have worked hard in the classroom and on the court and represented our University with distinction. Our students have earned their place at Carolina and we respect what they bring to the University both academically and athletically.
CNN called into question UNC claims that officials had never seen Willingham’s data, citing multiple emails between the researcher and various university administrators. Additionally, Willingham said that she has gotten permission from UNC several times since 2008 to continue her research, and CNN reports that “her research on the students in the athletics programs that make money for the university was done based on screenings that the university itself paid for.”
Not only has Willingham faced adversity from the university administration, but since the research has been made public the UNC instructor has recieved four death threats and “more than 30 other alarming messages,” CNN reports.
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