TO THE EDITOR:
We write to express our support for Mary Willingham, who has bravely spoken to the press about her recent experiences in the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes.
As a learning specialist who worked with the athletes most challenged to meet UNC’s academic demands, Willingham showed her dedication to athletes’ well-being day in and day out for seven years.
In her time with the program, she also saw the effects of a competitive environment that encourage universities to focus on processing at-risk students instead of providing them with educational experiences comparable to those of other students.
As a distinguished institution of higher learning, UNC has a responsibility to provide a meaningful education to every single student it admits.
This includes when that responsibility conflicts with sport schedules or the expectations of the NCAA, or when it is complicated by the deficient high school preparation of its recruits.
Like any university, UNC has an obligation to be completely honest about what it does and how it does it.
We faculty of the Athletics Reform Group hail Mary Willingham’s principled commitment to honest and open discussions and salute her as an example of what is best in UNC’s educational traditions.
We also call on others in the campus community to voice their support for her.
E.W. Brooks, Jay Smith and Lewis Margolis
on behalf of the Athletics Reform Group
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