CNN: UNC Report Finds 18 Years of Academic Fraud to Keep Athletes Playing
A 131-page report released yesterday outlines academic fraud at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) that whistleblower Mary Willingham has been raising concerns about for years. More than 3000 students at UNC-CH have taken fake “paper classes” that were encouraged by counselors to help athletes stay eligible to play. Four employees have been fired and five more disciplined because of their roles in the scandal.
Earlier this year, GAP sent two letters to UNC-CH officials questioning the school’s apparent retaliation and harassment against Willingham in the wake of her revelations about student-athlete literacy levels (here and here). Willingham, former reading specialist for athletes at the university, filed a lawsuit against the school in July alleging she was subject to a hostile working environment after voicing academic misconduct.
Key Quote (CNN): Many of the academic-athletic staff who were named and implicated by Wainstein were also named by university Learning Specialist Mary Willingham, who went public with detailed allegations about paper classes and who, after an all-out assault on her credibility by the university, has since filed a whistleblower suit.
Key Quote (WTVD): “I think for me, it’s just a sad day because it does confirm the paper class system,” Willingham said to ESPN’s Outside the Lines. “It was a detailed report and a good effort and the university is trying to do the right thing finally after many long years.”
Key Quote (WRAL): Willingham does believe the culture at UNC-CH is finally changing for the better. She’s now worried about all the other schools across the country, which is why she is working on a new project called Literacy Before Legacy. “I’d like people to join me in the call to help young athletes, sixth-graders, fifth-graders with their reading skills so they will be prepared for a real education by the time they get to college,” she said.
Anonymous whistleblowers at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have revealed to the Washington Post that negative findings were stricken from audits between 2011 and 2013. The Post found that more than 400 negative references were removed from 12 audits between the confidential draft and final public versions. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said his office looked into complaints by a half-dozen whistleblowers who say their audits were altered, and said “this is the worst we’ve seen.”
Coverage of Tuesday’s stop on GAP’s American Whistleblower Tour at Baruch College. Prominent whistleblowers Sherron Watkins (Enron scandal) and Jon Oberg (student loans) shared with students their stories and the difficulties they’ve faced for speaking up against wrongdoing.
Key Quote: [GAP President Louis] Clark also was on the Baruch panel, and he added his own thoughts on defining whistleblowers. One misconception that he sought to refute was that people who spotlight wrongdoing at their own companies are cynical. “Cynical people tend not to blow the whistle,” he said. “They are usually the hardest-working people in the office.” And they have very high standards, he added.
Former congressional investigator Paul Thacker describes the first interview he had with the late Rick Piltz after he left the government in 2005. Piltz “made it clear that the White House was doing everything possible to create confusion on climate change.” Thacker also reveals that what Piltz said nine years ago about climate change “has come into sharper focus.”
Key Quote: Piltz spent decades in science policy and had a clear understanding of how science can get distorted, buried and misused if it inconveniences people in power.
The danger for scientific experts isn’t just in speaking up. The danger is also remaining silent. Rick wasn’t afraid to speak up. He will be missed.