Charles Farrell: Keep digging in Chapel Hill

January 14, 2014 

Dan Kane’s and Jane Stancill’s Jan. 11 piece on UNC athletes was just the sort of investigative reporting that Tom Patterson of the Kennedy School at Harvard says we need more of but is difficult for newspapers to support because of the uncertainty of outcome and associated costs. I applaud The N&O.

I would, however, hope that you would probe further on Mary Willingham’s assertions that research ethics prevent her from sharing the information with UNC. They should ask whose guidelines – Hers? Established guidelines by professional education associations? Professional psychology researcher organizations? Inform us as to exactly what those guidelines specify and verify what Willingham tells them with third-party professionals (although not necessarily from area universities, as we might worry about rivalry bias).

Without this background, I am sympathetic to UNC’s requests for information that she is withholding from them. And how does this square with her offer to share the name of the basketball player who can’t read with coach Roy Williams?

You’ve got the beginnings of a good story. Don’t let it founder because you didn’t dig deep enough.

Charles Farrell

Raleigh

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