Former UNC academic advisor Mary Willingham not to testify

Mary Willingham
May 12, 2014 3:14:43 PM PDT
The academic advisor and whistleblower who reported some UNC Chapel Hill athletes were reading at a fourth grade level told ABC11 Saturday that her invitation to testify this week before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has been cancelled.

The hearing Wednesday will focus on the welfare of NCAA athletes.

Mary Willingham stepped down from her position at UNC amid the academic scandal saying "it was a hostile environment and I was demoted and stripped of my title."

Saturday, she said she was told that Senate Commerce Committee chair Sen. Jay Rockefeller had decided not to include her testimony.

"Perhaps I was replaced by a profit sport athlete. Our DI profit sport athletes deserve a voice at the table, not to mention the right to a real education in exchange for their talents," Willingham offered. 

Based on test scores, Willingham claims 60-percent of more than 180 UNC athletes she worked with read between a fourth and eighth grade reading level. She also described up to ten-percent as functionally illiterate.

School leaders brought in experts to examine the findings. That ended with Provost James Dean reporting those outside experts "finding 'no evidence' to support the literacy claims widely reported."

Those with the University claimed the information Willingham used was not correct.

"The amount of data that was given to the expert was not the same data that I had given," said Willingham.

"The data is the data and I'm going to stand by that data," said Willingham to ESPN.

The Chronicle for Higher Education reports the list of invitees to the hearing also includes Ed O'Bannon, a former UCLA basketball star and the lead plaintiff in a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, Mark Emmert, the NCAA president and Ramogi Huma, the head of an effort to unionize football players at Northwestern University.

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