You may recall that CNN’s Sara Ganim was the one who broke the Penn State story in 2012 while she was with the Harrisburg Patriot News. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on that scandal.
Now, she’s caught The Flagship’s PR Machine in just another of a long series of lies. This time, UNC claims university officials didn’t have access to Mary Willingham’s research data and therefore hadn’t reviewed it (CNN):
UNC issued a statement Wednesday night saying it did not believe Willingham’s account of a basketball player who could not read or write.
It went on: “University officials can’t comment on the other statistical claims mentioned in the story because they have not seen that data. University officials have asked for that data, but those requests have not been met.”
As well as questioning UNC many times about the story before publication, CNN also detailed Willingham’s research and linked to her full study online.
And purported e-mail exchanges obtained by CNN since August show that Willingham did share her findings at least twice — once with Executive Vice Provost James W. Dean Jr., and once with a member of a university committee on academics and athletics.
In addition, Willingham says 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. And, she says, she has gotten permission from the university several times since 2008 to access those findings to continue her research.
“It’s already available to them,” Willingham said. “It’s in their system. … They have all the data and more. It belongs to them, and they paid a lot of money for it.”
Last year, when CNN asked UNC for comment on Willingham’s research, officials initially denied knowing about it, and said: “Such analysis is not part of her job duties at the university.”
Then, after being shown the e-mails, a spokesperson admitted that Willingham did share her findings and did have permission from the university to do the research in the first place, and said a meeting with Willingham was being scheduled.
Apart from Wednesday’s statement, UNC has not responded to CNN’s request for an explanation.
For context, here’s the denial in question (WRAL):
UNC administrators questioned the accuracy of the CNN report, including a quote from a source who said a former basketball player who could not read or write. “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,” the school said in a statement Wednesday.
— Jim Dean (@TarHeelProvost) January 1, 2014
Now, as one of the SFN resident lawyers pointed out, UNC saying it “we do not believe” Willingham is careful phrasing different from saying it was untrue.
Another point worth noting is that in 1989, N.C. State University held itself accountable by self-imposing crippling sanctions for what the NCAA, Poole Commission and SBI all found to be “minor infractions” nowhere near the scope of the UNC Scandal. There were no implications of players cheating or improper assistance by tutors or advisors under Jim Valvano. There was no University-sanctioned institutionalized academic fraud. There was no grade-fixing or faux majors and there were no no-show classes. Some players had poor grades and poor reading skills, but those who did not deserve to matriculate or graduate did not, in fact, matriculate or graduate.
Compare the response of N.C. State in 1989 — before swollen multi-million dollar athletic department budgets — to the arrogant elitism of The Carolina Way over the past few years: they’ve denied, stalled, scapegoated, and flat out lied every step of the way.
Remember how the scope of the farcical Jim Martin investigation reached all the way to the arbitrarily chosen year of 1997 – the same 1997 that just coincidentally was the exact year that Dean Smith retired? It did not matter to the super sleuths at ‘The Flagship’ that Julius Nyang’oro, one of the two masterminds the University alleges pulled off decades of academic fraud all by themselves and for no apparent reason or benefit, started teaching at UNC a DECADE earlier..or that Nyang’oro became the first and only chairman of the African and Afro-American Studies six years earlier in 1992. With this as a backdrop, does anyone actually believe that the administration and faculty REALLY want to objectively look into the depths and breadth and timeline of the academic fraud at UNC-Chapel Hill when they don’t know which of their idols might ultimately be implicated?
— Jim Dean (@TarHeelProvost) November 20, 2013
In other UNC-CHeats news, it was confirmed today that PJ Hairston is no longer enrolled at UNC. Remember how UNC played John Blake? Now that PJ Hairston is no long enrolled, he cannot be compelled to speak to the NCAA. How convenient.