The N&O’s Dan Kane drops another bomb, this one pretty big.
Since most of us are nursing a Death Valley hangover and are currently busy watching some grown ups play football on the BIG stage (yes Pack fans, they do exist), there’s not going to be any commentary here, but we wanted to get this up and visible anyway.
As a reading specialist at UNC-Chapel Hill, Mary Willingham met athletes who told her they had never read a book and didnâ€™t know what a paragraph was. She said she saw diagnostic tests that showed they were unable to do college-level work.
But many of those athletes stayed eligible to play sports, she said, because the academic support system provided improper help and tolerated plagiarism. When she raised questions or made an objection to what she saw as cheating, she said, she saw no one take her concerns seriously.
Among her assertions:
â€¢ The no-show classes that had been offered by the chairman of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies date back at least to the time Willingham began working for the support program in 2003. Commonly known within the program as â€œpaper classes,â€ they were billed as lecture classes, but the classes never met.
Willingham learned of them when she was asked to work with a female athlete on a paper. Willingham said the paper was a â€œcut-and-pasteâ€ job, but when she raised questions about it, staff members told her not to worry. The student later received a grade of B or better.
â€¢ Members of the menâ€™s basketball team took no-show classes until the fall semester of 2009, when the team was assigned a new academic counselor. The new counselor was appalled to learn of the classes, and wanted no part of them. University records show the enrollments stopped that semester for basketball players, while they continued for football players.
â€¢ Numerous football and basketball players came to the university with academic histories that showed them incapable of doing college-level work, especially at one of the nationâ€™s top public universities. Diagnostic tests administered by the university confirmed their lack of preparedness and also identified learning disabilities that would need extensive remediation to put them on a successful academic path.
Some athletes told Willingham they had never read a book or written a paragraph, but they were placed in no-show classes that required a 20-page paper and came away with grades of B or better.
â€¢ Roughly five years ago, Bobbi Owen, the senior associate dean who had oversight of the academic support program, sought to rein in the number of independent studies offered by the African studies department, which by then averaged nearly 200 a year. Independent studies required no class time and often not much more than a term paper; they were popular with football and basketball players.
Have at it in the comments section folks.