Author Taylor Branch, UNC Learning Specialist Mary Willingham, former UNC player Devon Ramsay and Producer Andrew Muscato participate in a panel discussion at the EPIX screening of the original documentary "Schooled: The Price of College Sports" at The NCTA Building on October 9, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Mary Willingham, the UNC Chapel Hill instructor who made headlines by indicating that at least 8-10 percent of football and basketball players were reading at a third grade level has resigned, citing "irreconcilable differences" with the university. Willingham had worked at UNC in the athletes' tutoring program for seven years but took another position at the school when the tutoring program failed to change the alleged cheating she witnessed.
Willingham's announcement came as a surprise to UNC officials, who believed she was taking some time off but would not be gone permanently. The school and its students have repeatedly made attempts to discredit Willingham's claims, arguing that she had misread test scores and used invalid literacy tests for the athletes. These circumstances prompted Willingham to state, "The work environment has been unpleasant, the UNC fanatics are hostile, and I can see that it will not get better any time soon."
Earlier this month, outside researchers refuted Willingham's claims, indicating that the majority of the school's student-athletes "scored at or above college entry level on the SATA Reading Vocabulary subtest" and that the test itself shouldn't be used to draw conclusions about overall reading ability.
Willingham won't comment further on her resignation until after her students' grades are posted and she speaks with her attorneys as well as the university's HR department. Though she's leaving, her work certainly had an impact on the school -- demands for reform have come from Washington and a fraud charge was brought against the head of the African Studies program (which was alleged to have the most blatant example of false academic standards for athletes).
[Raleigh News & Observer