WJTV News Channel 12 - CHAPEL HILL: UNC faculty chair faces trustees

UNC faculty chair faces trustees, discusses athletic scandal

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UNC academic adviser Mary Willingham said her research of 183 football and basketball players at UNC found 60 percent read at fourth- to eighth-grade levels UNC academic adviser Mary Willingham said her research of 183 football and basketball players at UNC found 60 percent read at fourth- to eighth-grade levels
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

The Board of Trustees from the University of North Carolina heard from key people with the university in a meeting at the Carolina Inn about athletics and academics.

UNC faculty chair Jan Boxill told the trustees the university is still spending a great deal of time investigating potential shortfalls with student athletes.

"I think we were all hoping that in 2014 that we would bring a resolution to move forward in our continuing efforts to correct the academic abuses and shortfalls in our academic processes for our student athletes," Boxill said.

The assertion comes after UNC reading specialist Mary Willingham said her research of players in for-profit sports showed 60 percent were at or below an eighth-grade reading level.

"There are probably people who are less well-prepared in various ways as they come to the university, but we do provide resources," Boxill said. "Do some fall through the cracks? That's always difficult."

Provost James Dean said university research shows the data Willingham used was not meant to evaluate reading levels.

But Willingham, in a response, told WNCN, "The way Provost Dean explained my data analysis is 100 percent incorrect. I have done work with this data set for the last six years and have a good understanding of what I am doing."

Willingham said she occasionally seeks help from experts in other fields, but that the university never called them to understand the data.

Dean told WNCN, "Can we verify that with outside experts? That process is going on right now. As soon as we get that data back, we'll let you know."

Feedback from those experts in educational testing could be back in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, a group focused on looking at how the university governs athletes and their academics will meet Friday.

The UNC trustees also heard about a data breach that may have impacted up to 6,000 people. At the time, UNC said the university said some electronic files in the Division of Finance and Administration became accessible on the Internet. The files contained information such as names and Social Security or Employee Tax Identification numbers, and in some cases, addresses and dates of birth.

Chris Kielt, vice chancellor for information technology, said the data was a decade old in most cases and called it "an honest mistake."

He said the data was left exposed because of a server change.

"People simply didn't know the data existed on there," he said.

Chancellor Carol Folt said there was no evidence that any of the information was used, and it was immediately taken down once it was discovered.

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Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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