Mary Willingham

Mary Willingham previously worked in 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. 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. She is a co-owner of Paper Class Inc., a company dedicated to raising awareness about the need for NCAA reform. This past year, she was in Taylor Branch’s Documentary, “Schooled: The Price of College Sport”, Bob Edwards Documentary, “ Dropping the Ball” and appeared on HBO Real Sports, ESPN Outside the Lines and CNN “Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th graders “with Sara Ganim. She was also featured in Paul Barrett’s February cover story – “In Fake Classes Scandal, UNC Fails Its Athletes—and Whistle-Blower” Bloomberg Business Week Magazine.

She has recently co-authored commentary published in both The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education as well as a book on the UNC-CH scandal, “Cheated: The UNC Scandal, The Education of Athletes, And The Future of Big-Time College Sports”.

For a full curriculum vitae or list of publications, please contact Mary Willingham at