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UNC wants Willingham case moved to federal court

Posted July 30

Mary Willingham

— The University of North Carolina Wednesday asked to have a civil suit filed by a former academic adviser heard in federal court rather than at the county level.

Mary Willingham, who claims that the university put player eligibility above academic integrity for years, filed the suit in Wake County, alleging that UNC retaliated against her for speaking about the academic performance of revenue-sport athletes.

UNC asked North Carolina's Eastern District of Federal Court to take up the case because Willingham’s claims of retaliation are based on federal, not state, law.

Willingham claims she was informed in July 2013 that there would be several changes regarding the terms of her employment with the university, including a demoted rank and title and additional job duties that would require "extensive training."

Willingham's claims of retaliation also stated that she was told by the university that she would no longer be advising undergraduate students, but would only provide academic advising to graduate students who were seniors. Willingham was also forced to move her existing office to another space with working conditions her suit describes as "poor."

"Defendants (UNC) retaliated against Plantiff (Willingham) by providing her with a hostile work environment and purposefully failing or refusing to take prompt and effective remedial action to eradicate Plantiff's hostile work environment," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claimed that Willingham has "incurred and sustained harms, losses and other damages" as a "direct and proximate result of UNC's acts of reprisal" against her. Willingham, who resigned her position at the end of the 2014 spring semester, is seeking damages in excess of $10,000 and court costs.

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  • tgiv Jul 31, 11:17 a.m.

    Her first allegations were entirely credible, and she should be lauded for them.

    In her second set of allegations, the use of her own materials instead of well-established standards rendered her results questionable. Trumpeting those results with questionable data smacked more of headline hunting than academic research or concern for students.

    I'm quite certain she was retaliated against. If for the first set of allegations, then she should prevail with a generous judgment. If for the second set then I'd award her 1 penny.

  • Whiskey4one Jul 31, 10:00 a.m.

    They should have simply fired her. Once all of her findings were debunked, they should have just... View More

    — Posted by Listen2MeNowHearMeLater

    You are badly misinformed. Do you know how long and hard they had to search to find their 'experts'?

    Anyone wanna bet the true nature of this requested jurisdiction change is to ensure it lands on a UNC grad's court room?

  • Listen2MeNowHearMeLater Jul 31, 9:33 a.m.

    They should have simply fired her. Once all of her findings were debunked, they should have just fired her.

  • Maxxx Jul 31, 9:08 a.m.

    Now why would UNC do such a thing to such a nice young lady???