UNC literacy scandal gets Colbert treatment

From staff reportsJanuary 17, 2014 

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.”

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