CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina coach Roy Williams strongly admonished a CNN report in which Mary Willingham, a UNC-Chapel Hill employee who once served as a learning specialist who worked with athletes, said that a former UNC basketball player could not read or write.
Willingham said she analyzed enrollment data of 183 athletes admitted between 2004 and 2012 and found 60 percent of them were reading on an elementary or middle school level. She said about 10 percent of them could not read.
Willingham told CNN specifically about a former UNC basketball player who she claimed was illiterate. Williams strongly refuted the report Wednesday night.
I dont believe thats true, Williams said. Its totally unfair. Im really proud of the kids weve brought in here. Im really proud of what our student-athletes have done. Thats not fair. Ive been here 10 recruiting classes, I guess. We havent brought anybody in like that. Weve had one senior since Ive been here that did not graduate. Anybody can make any statement they want to make, but that is not fair.
Willinghams research has brought more bad publicity to UNC, which has been reeling amid several scandals, including a widespread NCAA investigation that led to major sanctions and the revelation that the Afro- and African-American Studies Department was rife with fraudulent classes that helped some athletes stay eligible to play.
Williams, though, defended the universitys integrity.
The University of North Carolina doesnt do that, he said of admitting students who cant read. The University of North Carolina doesnt stand for that. And I think its I dont believe its true, and Im really, really bothered by the whole thing. People have taken their chances and (have been) beating up on us for quite a while. But were going to survive this.
And Im really proud of my kids. Anybody says anything like that like thats not right. And every kid and I cant say others but I know what the programs been for 100 years. Every one of the kids that weve recruited in 10 years youd take home with you and let (them) guard your grandchildren. And Im really proud of my kids.