The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports
In 2010 allegations of an utterly corrupted academic system for student-athletes emerged from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus, home of the legendary Tar Heels. Now, however, the fallout of this scandal—and the continuing spotlight on the failings of college athletics—has made the school ground zero in the debate about how the $16 billion college sports industry operates.
Written by UNC professor of history Jay Smith and UNC athletics department whistleblower Mary Willingham,Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports exposes the fraudulent inner workings of this famous university. For decades, woefully underprepared basketball and football players have taken fake courses and earned dubious degrees from one of the nation’s top universities while faculty and administrators looked the other way. Cheated recounts the academic fraud in UNC’s athletic department and makes an impassioned argument that the “student-athletes” in these programs are being cheated out of what, after all, was promised them in the first place: a college education.
About The Authors
Jay M. Smith has been Professor of History at UNC-Chapel Hill since 1990. Between 1993 and 2013 he served almost without interruption in a variety of administrative capacities involving the management of undergraduate education. He has been an academic advisor for the College of Arts and Sciences, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Chair of the History department, and, for nearly five years, he was the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Curricula in the College of Arts and Sciences. He supervised the implementation of a new General Education curriculum for the University in 2004-2006, a process that brought him into close contact with administrators across the campus. Between 2010 and 2013 he also served on the university’s Educational Policy Committee. A specialist in early-modern French history, he has published three major monographs and one edited book, all on the general subject area of French cultural and political history under the ancien régime.
Mary Willingham is the Founder of Paper Class Inc. She previously worked for The Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling (CSSAC) at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She was an Academic Advisor in the Graduation Division and a Clinical Instructor in the School of Education. Originally hired by the University in 2003 as a Learning Specialist in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, she moved to CSSAC in January of 2010. Other previous positions include High School Teacher and Corporate Human Resources Manager, Fortune 500 Companies. Willingham has a BS in Psychology from Loyola University, Chicago, and an MA in Liberal Studies from UNC-Greensboro. She earned a North Carolina Teaching License, K-12 Learning Disabled, and is a trained Reading Specialist. Her research includes studies on the NCAA and university admission procedures with regards to profit athletes, and their specific gaps in basic skill deficits, as well as the incidence of LD/ADHD.
“The underlying fraud in big-time college athletics is academics. With the most comprehensive accounting, Smith and Willlingham paint an absolutely devastating picture of how so-called student-athletes are shamelessly exploited. . . . Cheated is nothing less than an American tragedy.”—Frank Deford, author of The Entitled and senior contributing writer for Sports Illustrated
“This book informed me that, as a black athlete and a student, more awareness and information about the universities you attend must be thoroughly analyzed before making a decision about your future. The details of fraudulent education and unprepared black athletes in this book should shame our society. I am a living testimony that this book is the Pandora’s box of university secrets and black athlete exploitation. It is a must-read.”—Rashad McCants, former NBA player and unc NCAA Champion
“Smith and Willingham’s exposé of the corruption at the University of North carolina reads like a suspense thriller but unfortunately is nonfiction. The authors offer concrete recommendations for college sports reform that should serve as a blueprint for all American universities.”—Gerald Gurney, president of the Drake Group and assistant professor of adult and higher education at the University of Oklahoma