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Jul 02, 2014 04:13 AM EDT

Former UNC Advisor Sues School for Unlawful Demotion and Retaliation (UPDATE)


Mary Willingham, a former University of North Carolina advisor and whistleblower, has filed a lawsuit against the school for being subjected to unlawful demotion, isolation and retaliation.

Willingham contends that the discrimination popped up following disclosure of athlete student's poor reading skills on CNN channel. She compiled the data of athlete students who attended UNC between 2004 and 2012 and passed it on to the channel.

Willingham found that 25 percent of athletes between 2004 and 2012 did not have the necessary skills to attend either a community college or a well-known university like UNC. Out of 183 football and basketball players, 8 percent had a reading level of below fourth-grade, whereas 60 percent were between a fourth and eighth-grade reading level.

UNC also came under fire for no-show classes and courses known as "paper classes."

The lawsuit, filed Monday, blames the UNC system and UNC-Chapel Hill for creating an unfriendly work environment that forced Willingham to quit her job in May. She is seeking a jury trial, over $10,000 in damages, reinstatement to her job at the university and a ban on retaliation, News-Record reports.

"I believe in Mary Willingham," said Heydt Philbeck, Willingham's attorney. "She has been through a lot. All for standing up for what's right. With this lawsuit we seek to right the wrongs. She stood up for was right. The people in power didn't like that and they decided to treat her differently," abc 11 reports.

The lawsuit comes after NCAA reopened an investigation into academic abnormalities involving student-athletes.

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