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N&O: Can Folt Make the Grade?
Raleigh’s News & Observer is the newspaper of record in North Carolina, and by all accounts it has done a thorough job of researching and revealing the rampant academic fraud within the UNC athletics department and the academic areas that dishonestly supported the university’s under-prepared athletes.
Yesterday the paper published an editorial (reprinted in full below) that all but accused Chancellor Carol Folt of incompetence in dealing with the ongoing scandal:
First the question was whether some athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were academically qualified. Now the question is whether the university’s leaders can make the grade.
At a time that demands that forthright leadership get to the bottom of the scandal involving athletes and no-show classes, UNC’s leadership is getting it all wrong. Instead of listening to whistle-blower Mary Willingham, the university has tried to discredit her, challenging the accuracy of her research into some athletes’ low literacy levels and suspending her research as a possible threat to student privacy.
Provost Jim Dean said Willingham did not have permission from the UNC research review board to use data that might identify students. He said Willingham’s research was flawed and her conclusions “virtually meaningless.” Chancellor Carol Folt broke her silence on the scandal by saying the data compiled by Willingham did not match what university officials see in athletes’ records.
Men’s basketball coach Roy Williams challenged Willingham’s claim that one of his previous players was illiterate. “I don’t think it’s true, and I’m really, really bothered by the whole thing,” he said.
Willingham, a learning specialist in the UNC athlete tutoring program from 2003 to 2010, offered to show the coach proof of her claim, but Williams said speaking with her wasn’t his role.
Willingham, who now works at the UNC Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling, first disclosed her concerns about academically struggling athletes and bogus classes to The News & Observer in August of 2011 and went public in a Nov. 17, 2012 N&O story. She further stirred the scandal when she discussed athletes poor reading skills in a recent CNN report. Her claims are hardly new, so why is UNC-CH’s leadership responding with shock, denial and disbelief? Regardless of the specifics, or even the flaws, of Willingham’s research, she did have direct experience with athletes who needed extensive academic help. And the broad outlines of the university’s problem with athletes and academics have been well established by other sources.
A review led by former Gov. Jim Martin documented hundreds of no-show classes and rampant grade changing. The transcripts of football stars Julius Peppers and Marvin Austin became public and raised serious questions about the rigor of the education UNC has offered athletes. Former football player Michael McAdoo recently told The N&O he was steered into phony courses and called the university’s academic environment for athletes “a sham.”
Someone at UNC, or someone with authority beyond campus, needs to end this matter by getting to its root. Instead of parsing Willingham’s findings, leaders need to find answers to basic questions: How long was the fraud going on? How many athletes were involved? Who initiated it and who perpetuated it?
Willingham says she will apply to the research review board to continue her work. Meanwhile, she said in an email to The Associated Press last week that UNC and other universities won’t clear up the problem of poorly educated athletes until they face it.
“The gap in academic preparedness between profit-sport athletes and students at NCAA [Division I] institutions perpetuates educational inequality,” Willingham said. “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.”
The learning specialist is showing how to solve the problem. Now let’s see whether university leaders can learn to do it.
Addendum: For people in Hanover participating in the party game of wondering which of Dartmouth’s exported charlatans is going to flame out first, it sure looks like Carol Folt is going to get the boot before Jim Kim.
Addendum: The Durham Herald Sun summarizes the UNC case concerning the Willingham data here.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own interviews, a review of…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…