Starting in 2011, Carolyn Willingham, a tutor at the University of North Carolina, complained to the press about fake classes for athletes. In place of an education, she said, athletes, some of whom could barely read, were encouraged to take fake classes, such as classes that never met.
Jim Dean, executive vice chancellor and provost, responded to her charges like this:
Dean asked Willingham to provide raw test data supporting her analysis. She declined, explaining that she’d obtained the confidential information by promising the university’s Institutional Review Board not to share it with anyone. She told Dean he could obtain the data directly from the athletic department, which gathered it in the first place. He declined to do as she suggested. “If she had the proof,” Dean says, “why wouldn’t she share the proof?”
Later Dean handled Willingham’s charges like this:
Dean said of Willingham: “She’s said our students can’t read, our athletes can’t read, and that’s a lie.”
In fact, Willingham had said
18 out of the 183 special admit athletes whose records she assessed read at roughly a third-grade level. An additional 110 of the athletes, she said, read at between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. She never said that most, let alone all, of the 800 athletes at UNC are illiterate, and she said nothing at all about the other 18,000 undergraduates.
When challenged, Dean conceded he’d misspoken.
Even the reporter, apparently, finds Dean’s defense repugnant. An important detail is that Willingham, who is wealthy, did not need the job. She was free to say whatever she wanted.