The football program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was skewered by comic Stephen Colbert this week on his Comedy Central TV news-parody program, amid allegations of low literacy among some UNC athletes.
Researcher Mary Willingham’s allegations that some UNC athletes are admitted with elementary-level reading skills were featured in a 5½-minute segment of “The Colbert Report” on Wednesday night.
Colbert, who portrays himself as a conservative on political and social issues, used a video clip of Willingham’s interview in a recent CNN story on the education of athletes at major U.S. universities.
The segment, delivered in Colbert’s trademark deadpan style, also used an audio clip of Willingham and a transcript of her words from a different interview.
In the CNN interview, Willingham said, “We might as well go to Glenwood Elementary right up the street and let all the fourth-graders in here” because some athletes at UNC could not read above a fourth-grade level.
As the live audience reacted to her remark, Colbert looked into the camera and asked, “Why? How fast can they run the 40? Can they really take a hit?”
The nation, as Colbert refers to his fans, is facing “a terrifying new enemy that is threatening to destroy our beloved college sports: Education.”