Former University of North Carolina professor Mary Willingham filed suit earlier this week against the university for claims of retaliation. After it was revealed the university offered a multitude of classes in the Afro-American studies program that required no attendance and only one paper, Willingham spoke with a local newspaper regarding her knowledge of the aptly named “paper classes.” In what the suit alleges was an act of retaliation, the university demoted the professor.
According to this CNN article, after Willingham was featured in a CNN story addressing the literacy rates of college athletes, university officials verbally attacked her. As alleged in the complaint, the harassment by UNC officials escalated after Willingham revealed research on athletes whose reading levels were comparable to that of an elementary school student. Due to the alleged unwavering harassment, Willingham announced her retirement from the university in May of this year.
The university has admitted knowledge of the “paper classes,” but placed blame on the actions of one professor, Julius Nyang’oro. As a result of the media coverage generated by the scandal, UNC has launched a new investigation into the alleged academic fraud. Former federal investigator Ken Wainstein is heading the investigation and has requested a multitude of documents, some of which date back to 1980. Additionally, Wainstein has spoken with Willingham and Nyang’oro, which the NCAA did not do during its investigation.
Oklahoma University professor Gerald Gurney is currently researching academic fraud at UNC, in addition to many other universities. Gurney stated, “I have no doubt that the scale of the North Carolina case constitutes the most significant academic fraud case in the NCAA.”
If you or someone you know thinks they have experienced employment retaliation, the team at Radford & Keebaugh can help. Contact us by phone at (678) 369-3609 or use our contact form.