UNC Settles with Whistleblower for $335K

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has agreed to pay $335,000 to a former employee to settle a lawsuit she brought against the school after facing what she claimed was retaliation for whistleblowing on lax academic standards for athletes.

Mary Willingham alleged that she faced retaliation after shedding light on unethical treatment of UNC student-athletes.

Willingham, a university learning specialist at UNC, claimed in her suit that she was forced to resign after she alerted the administration to “widespread, unethical, and even corrupt academic assistance that she had personally witnessed various student-athletes receiving from university officials and staff.”

The former employee also alleged that the university had low literacy levels for school athletes, a charge the school denies.

Upon the announcement of the settlement, UNC associate vice chancellor of communications and public affairs Rick White said that the University expects the agreement to “resolve all of the outstanding legal issues in the case.”

“We appreciate the efforts of the mediator to help us achieve a successful and timely conclusion to the mediation,” White continued. “We believe the settlement is in the best interest of the University and allows us to move forward and fully focus on other important issues.”

Named in the lawsuit was UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt, Provost James W. Dean Jr., and Roberta Ann Owen, former senior associate dean for undergraduate education in the school’s College of Arts & Sciences.

The settlement is still pending the judge’s finalizing actions in the case.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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