By Yolanda Spivey
A woman who was given permission by the University of North Carolina to do research on college athletes is now receiving death threats due to the data she collected.
In a recent interview with CNN, Mary Willingham states that her research revealed that 10 percent of the student-athletes at UNC were reading below a third-grade level. Willingham, who works at the university’s Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling, states that the school is not supporting her findings.
Recently, the out-casted researcher met with the UNC’s Department of Public Safety so that they can investigate the 30 messages that were described as “straight –up hate speech.”
The university has since denied ever seeing the data and refused to comment on this story. But they did state that her research was “patently unfair to the many student athletes who worked hard in the classroom.” They further stated that “such analysis is not part of her job duties at the university.”
Willingham stated that her research on the students was paid for by the university and since 2008, she has gotten permission from the university to conduct several research projects to continue her findings.
She said to CNN, “It’s already available to them. It’s in their system. They have all the data and more. It belongs to them, and they paid a lot of money for it.”
Email exchanges that were obtained by CNN shows that since August 2013, Willingham has shared her findings twice with university officials.
Although she has received the threats, she is also getting a lot of positive support from fellow educators around the county.
Willingham said, “I’ve been getting more and more nice notes from high school teachers and literacy specialists across the country saying ‘Thank you.'”
She feels that the positive notes “makes all this trouble worth it.”
For now, university police are continuing in their investigation.