CHAPEL HILL: Willingham calls UNC 'defensive' in response - WFLA News Channel 8

Willingham calls UNC 'defensive' in response to report

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Mary Willingham, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill counselor who has been a key figure in the athletic scandal at the school, called UNC “incredibly defensive and reactive” overall in a response posted late Tuesday night.

Willingham, on her website, issued a lengthy response to UNC’s announcement that three independent experts did not support her claims.

The university hired professors from Georgia State, Minnesota and Virginia to review her findings, and said their review did not support her conclusions.

Willingham told CNN in January that her research of 183 football or basketball players from 2004-12 found 60 percent reading at fourth- to eighth-grade levels and roughly 10 percent below a third-grade level.

In a response posted Wednesday night on her website, Willingham said, “To avoid technical discussion and to get right to the heart of the matter, I will simply say that the three outside experts who conducted the ‘independent’ review of my data did not come close to replicating my analysis. They were unable to do so because they were denied access to the full range of test scores (i.e., SAT/ACT scores, SATA raw scores, SATA WM scores, WAIS scores, and DOB) that formed the basis of my critical judgment.

“Why didn't we release all available data to the independent investigators? If we truly want to be open and honest about the situation, why not turn over all available data? That would at least make possible an independent assessment of the validity of the original claims - which the independent investigators said they were not able to do with the data given to them. …

“Sadly, it seems that throughout this entire exercise, the University has been incredibly defensive and reactive in trying to discredit certain people rather than being proactive and accepting responsibility. Full disclosure and transparency is necessary in order to protect the academic integrity of the institution. Much has changed since I worked in the athletic department, however, athletic eligibility remains the priority for our profit sport athletes. Many of our athletes in the profit sports are not being given full access to a real education here and at institutions across the country.”

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