Student athletes defend UNC academics as advocacy group calls for NCAA probe


A student athlete advocacy group wants the NCAA to investigate the so called "paper classes" that gave out easy grades to athletes -- some of whom a UNC tutor alleges could not read and write on the college level.

This all came as the university puts a positive spin on student athlete performance at a campus meeting Thursday.

Fighting against negative publicity, UNC student athletes eased the concerns of the university Board of Trustees. Standouts like basketball player Marcus Paige deny there is a culture of athletics over academics.

"We understand that at a great academic institution you have to bring it every day in the classroom and we definitely try to do that," Paige said.

To back up their claims, the students shared examples of their daily tutoring schedules to the board, emphasizing success not only depends on the school's support system, but the students themselves.

"I have no doubt that a meaningful number of athletes at UNC have had an outstanding opportunity to pursue their education," said Emmett Gill, with Student Athlete Human Rights.

However, that did not stop Gill and several other members of a national student athlete advocacy group from writing a letter to the NCAA, requesting yet another investigation of UNC.

"At this particular point we have a little bit more information that points to that student athletes at UNC aren't receiving the same as their peers," Gill said.

Some of that new information was revealed recently in yet another national interview with UNC advisor Mary Willingham.

Willingham used a student athlete to back up her claims that some student athletes cannot read or write at the college level. According to her, the short essay received high marks, sparking a shockwave of comments online.

"I do think this situation is repairable but again UNC is not accepting accountability for what has happened and they're not holding any individual outside of the chair of the AFAM department accountable for the reality that this has been going on," Gill said.

UNC has yet to complete its review of Willingham's allegations. They have also hired an attorney to review the criminal case against a former department chair at the center of the scandal.

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