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Death threats for researcher who demonstrated college athletes read below a third-grade level

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According to a CNN report, the woman who revealed that 10 percent of the student-athletes at the University of North Carolina are reading below a third-grade level has been the subject of multiple death threats.

Worse still, Mary Willingham told CNN, UNC has refused to support the findings of a study it asked her to conduct. According to Willingham, when CNN asked her for data about the scholastic aptitude of student-athletes, she provided the network with information that UNC had collected.

“It’s in their system,” she said. “They have all the data and more. It belongs to them, and they paid a lot of money for it.”

UNC claimed otherwise, writing in a statement that “[u]niversity officials can’t comment on the statistical claims mentioned in the story because they have not seen the data.”

The university’s statement did acknowledge that Willingham’s claim that 10 percent of students are unable to read at a third-grade level was “patently unfair to the many student athletes who worked hard in the classroom.” It pointedly said nothing about whether the claim was unfair to those students who didn’t work hard in the classroom.

UNC also claimed that “[s]uch analysis is not part of [Willingham’s] job duties at the university,” but she provided CNN with emails she exchanged with university officials demonstrating that she had approval both to conduct her research and share her findings.

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The university said it plans to meet with Willingham to “discuss” her findings.

She has already met, repeatedly, with another group of university officials — those in the Department of Public Safety. Since releasing her findings, Willingham’s been the subject of multiple death threats and 30 other messages which merit further investigation.

These messages are not from “people who disagree, [but] people who put in the subject or body [of the e-mail] straight-up hate speech.”

University police said that they are “looking into it and making effort to reach out and investigate the nature of the threats.”

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Watch a report on the controversy from CNN below.

[Screenshot via YouTube]

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