HBO’s ‘Real Sports’ looks at academic programs for UNC student-athletes

Posted by Brooke Cain on March 24, 2014 

Bernard Goldberg (right) of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” interviews Mary Willingham (center), former learning specialist for UNC’s tutoring program for athletes, at Kenan Stadium on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

HBO

Tuesday night’s episode of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” includes a look at NCAA academic requirements for student athletes – and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of the schools they spotlight.

The segment, reported by Bernard Goldberg and produced by Josh Fine, looks at how lower admission standards, coupled with higher graduation requirements, have required many top schools to commit to learning specialists to ensure student athletes can keep up. Goldberg interviews Mary Willingham, a UNC whistle-blower who formerly worked with athletes. Willingham has claimed to have data showing that 60 percent of 183 athletes at UNC, specially tested over an eight-year period, could not read at the high school level and that another 10 percent could not read above the third-grade level. Goldberg also interviews two football players from the university – Michael McAdoo and Bryan Bishop.

“Real Sports” says its investigative team spent six months vetting multi-million dollar academic advising centers, which are responsible for helping student-athletes with “elementary educations” graduate from college. In addition to UNC, the episode looks at programs at the University of Memphis and University of Oklahoma.

“Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” airs on HBO at 10 p.m. Tuesday with lots of repeats: March 26 (3:45 a.m.), 28 (9:30 a.m., 5:00 p.m.) and 29 (10:45 a.m., 12:45 a.m.), and April 3 (1:30 p.m., 8:00 p.m.), 6 (9:30 a.m.) and 9 (7:00 p.m., 1:30 a.m.). On HBO2: March 27 (5:15 p.m., 8:30 p.m.) and 31 (3:15 p.m., 1:00 a.m.), and April 2 (7:00 a.m.) and 13 (3:15 p.m., 11:00 p.m.). It will be available on HBO On Demand from March 26-April 14.

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