Former Dartmouth interim president Carol Folt, now the chancellor of UNC, has found herself heading an investigation into claims that athletes at UNC coasted through their college educations with poor literacy skills because of their status as athletes. This scandal went down prior to Folt’s tenure at UNC, but she has taken it on head on. So here’s the recap: Mary Willingham, a learning specialist, was shocked to learn that an athlete at a UNC she was supposed to work with couldn’t read or write. She would soon find out that this athlete wasn’t alone. She would encounter several other athletes who couldn’t read or write either.
According to a “CNN” piece on the UNC academic scandal, “As a graduate student at UNC-Greensboro, Willingham researched the reading levels of 183 UNC-Chapel Hill athletes who played football or basketball from 2004 to 2012. She found that 60% read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. Between 8% and 10% read below a third-grade level. ‘So what are the classes they are going to take to get a degree here? You cannot come here with a third-, fourth- or fifth-grade education and get a degree here,’ she told CNN. The issue was highlighted at UNC two years ago with the exposure of a scandal where students, many of them athletes, were given grades for classes they didn’t attend, and where they did nothing more than turn in a single paper. Last month, a North Carolina grand jury indicted a professor at the center of the scandal on fraud charges. He’s accused of being paid $12,000 for a class he didn’t teach.”
UNC has apparently put a number of reforms in place to assure that such practices never happen again. But the investigation into what happened between 2004 to 2012 is an ongoing one and Folt is being very candid with the public as a strong leader should. We’re curious to see how this plays out and if NCAA sanctions against UNC are forthcoming to say the very least.