While the Wainstein report goes a long way toward opening up the wound made in my college’s honor, there are still steps that UNC needs to take to bring this episode to an end.
First, stop listening to lawyers and public relations advisers. This is not a legal and public relations problem. It is a problem of honor. UNC has an honor code, and UNC needs to behave honorably.
Second, settle all lawsuits with Mary Willingham and apologize to her. She is not a researcher, and while she made some errors with respect to following the necessary but byzantine rules differentiating research, IRB exempt research and quality control procedures, those errors do not obviate the contentions she tried to make for years, that a proportion of the athletes with whom she worked were woefully underprepared.
Third, admit that “special admissions” were used to admit some people who were emotionally, intellectually or academically unqualified. Many of our athletes are bright and hard-working and will become great successes after college sports, but that does not excuse admitting those who simply can’t function here. Being a college athlete at a first-rate university is at least two full-time jobs. It is incredibly hard. It is unfair to admit students who are not prepared.
Finally, admit that there were many people who chose not to ask questions because they were afraid of what the answers might be.
Robert M. Hamer
Professor of Psychiatry and Biostatistics, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill