By Ken Reed
Mary Willingham, a former reading specialist for the academic support program for athletes at the University of North Carolina (UNC), has won the Robert Maynard Hutchins Award for exposing special treatment for athletes at UNC. Willingham exposed the fact that UNC athletes were enrolled in more than 50 “no-show” classes so they could maintain their athletic eligibility at UNC. The annual award is presented by the Drake Group to college faculty or staff members who take a courageous stand to defend academic integrity at their institutions, often risking job security in doing so.
“Mary Willingham has demonstrated courageous behavior in standing up for what is right,” said Allen Sack, president of the Drake Group, an organization founded in 1999 to defend academic integrity in higher education from the coercive effects of commercial college sports. “The Drake Group is well aware that critics of commercial college sport have sometimes been targets of direct or indirect pressure for merely upholding basic academic principles. It is the mission of the Drake Group to defend people like Mary Willingham and to recognize their fortitude.”
Williamson, who still works at UNC but not with athletes, reported for years that she met athletes who told her that they had never read a book and didn’t know what a paragraph was. She said she saw diagnostic tests that showed they were unable to do college-level work, even though they stayed eligible to play sports. Williamson also said the academic support system provided improper help and tolerated plagiarism.
The League of Fans sends kudos to Ms. Willingham for her brave and principled efforts on the behalf of academic integrity.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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