Whistleblower’s epilogue

Courtesy of Andrew Muscato

From an editorial Wednesday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:

Mary Willingham’s name prompts some sports fans of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to frown and wince. She’s the whistleblower, after all, who brought academic fraud in the athletics program to bright light and for her trouble was inappropriately criticized by academic leaders. She left UNC. She sued. And now she and the university have reached a monetary settlement.

The reading specialist helped spark several investigations that cost millions of dollars and the hiring of high-dollar consultants by the university’s leaders, who mistakenly thought their main problem was public relations. It wasn’t. It was a full-blown academic scandal involving phony classes served up to athletes in order to keep them eligible.

It took a long time before the university’s leaders fully acknowledged the seriousness of the problems.

Willingham did the university a favor, but not one it appreciated. And her settlement ought to include an apology from Chancellor Carol Folt and Provost Jim Dean. In fact, Willingham should be rehired as a consultant to oversee the reforms UNC-CH says are in place.

As it turned out, she was one who understood what the “Carolina Way” was supposed to mean.