UNC to Probe CNN Allegations of Athlete Students' Poor Reading Levels


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has initiated an investigation into allegations of admitting more number of student-athletes despite their poor reading skills.

"I take these claims very seriously, but we have been unable to reconcile these claims with either our own facts or with those data currently being cited as he source for the claims. Moreover, the data presented in the media do not match up with those data gathered by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions," Carol Folt, chancellor, wrote in an open letter to the campus community.

The allegations were made public on CNN last week. Mary Willingham, UNC adviser and whistleblower, compiled the data of student-athletes 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.

Denying the claims, the university's Office of Undergraduate Admissions said that out of 341 student-athletes who were recruited for football, men's basketball and women's basketball between 2004 and 2012, 90 percent of these students met CNN's reading benchmark, while 34 of these students did not meet the threshold.

"We evaluate every student as carefully as we know how," Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions, said in a statement. "The primary criterion for admission for all students, including student-athletes, is the student's capacity to succeed academically at the University. We only admit students who we believe have the capacity to succeed."

Willingham said that the data was available to UNC administrators but they did not bother to give it a glance.

"(I was) waiting for the university to do the right thing, and they still haven't done the right thing," Willingham said, WRAL reports.

A similar controversy raged across UNC campus two years ago after Julius   Nyang'Oro, the former chairman of the school's Department of African and Afro-American Studies, was accused of not holding classes and still awarding grades to all student-athletes. In December, a grand jury indicted Nyang'Oro for accepting $12,000 worth of property, and for giving grades and not holding classes.

 "Carolina's recent academic and athletic improprieties shook our university to its core. In spite of seven investigations and numerous reforms already in place, this continues to be a painful journey for the Carolina community, and I will not ignore the lessons learned," Folt said in the letter.

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