This news is disturbing on so many levels.
(CNN) -- The death threats, Mary Willingham expected.
More shocking is that the University of North Carolina is now disavowing her research as a whistle-blower — research that showed between 8% and 10% of the school’s football and basketball players are reading below a third-grade level.
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 has also detailed Willingham’s research.
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.” […[
More from the Daily Mail:
A university learning specialist has received death threats and hateful messages after she exposed shockingly low academic levels among revenue athletes the University of North Carolina.
Mary Willingham found that between eight and ten per cent of collegeâ€™s football and basketball players had a reading level of a third grader.
By studying eight years of test scores from University of Carolinaâ€™s revenue sports players, she found that a majority had a reading level between fourth and eighth grade.
‘We may as well go over to the elementary school up the street and let the fourth-graders and third-graders in here,â€™ she told CNN.
Ms Willingham looked at 183 revenue sports players at the UNC between 2004 and 2012, and found that between eight and 10 per cent read below fourth grade level and 60 per cent between fourth and eighth grade level.
Ms Willingham also discovered that up to 25 per cent of basketball and football athletes did not have the reading level to study at a community college, let alone at a university.
In the two days which have passed since her findings were published as part of a wider investigation by CNN, Ms Willingham has received four death threats and 30 ‘alarming messages’
Ms Willingham, who also worked as a learning specialist for athletes from 2003 to 2010, told CNN of one example of a basketball player at the UNC who was completely illiterate, and another who could not read multisyllabic words, despite UNC at Chapel Hill being one of the top public universities in the U.S