Mary Willingham recently revealed in a study that 8-10 percent of University of North Carolina (UNC) student-athletes read below a third-grade level.
In response, Willingham has received death threats from UNC sports fans and denial from UNC administrators, who approved the study (video below).
Willingham recently showed CNN her study, which she says UNC has as well.
“It’s in their system,” Willingham told CNN. “They have all the data and more. It belongs to them, and they paid a lot of money for it.”
However, UNC said in a statement, "University officials can’t comment on the statistical claims mentioned in the story because they have not seen the data.”
That claim is false, according to several emails between Willingham and UNC.
CNN reports those emails show that Willingham shared her study with UNC Executive Vice Provost James W. Dean Jr. and with a member of the UNC Committee on Academics and Athletics.
Even though UNC claims it has not seen Willingham’s study, the school claims it is “patently unfair to the many student athletes who worked hard in the classroom... Such analysis is not part of [Willingham's] job duties at the university.”
But that statement by UNC was also proven false when Willingham provided CNN with emails she exchanged with UNC officials showing their approval for the research.
Willingham has recently met with UNC's Department of Public Safety because she has received multiple death threats and 30 other messages from "people who put in the subject or body [of the e-mail] straight-up hate speech.”
UNC police claim they are “looking into it and making effort to reach out and investigate the nature of the threats.”