The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports

Jay M. Smith and Mary Willingham

304 pages
4 figures, 4 tables


March 2015


$26.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In 2010 allegations of an utterly corrupt academic system for student-athletes emerged from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus, home of the legendary Tar Heels. As the alma mater of Michael Jordan, Larry Brown, Marion Jones, Lawrence Taylor, Rashad McCants, and many others; winner of forty national championships in six different sports; and a partner in one of the best rivalries in sports, UNC–Chapel Hill is a world-famous colossus of college athletics. In the wake of the Wainstein report, however, the fallout from this scandal—and the continuing spotlight on the failings of college athletics—has made the school ground zero in the debate about how the $16 billion college sports industry operates.

Written by UNC professor of history Jay Smith and UNC athletics department whistleblower Mary Willingham, Cheated exposes the fraudulent inner workings of this famous university. For decades these internal systems have allowed woefully underprepared basketball and football players to take fake courses and earn devalued degrees from one of the nation’s top universities while faculty and administrators looked the other way. In unbiased and carefully sourced detail, Cheated recounts the academic fraud in UNC’s athletics department, even as university leaders focused on minimizing the damage in order to keep the billion-dollar college sports revenue machine functioning. Smith and Willingham make an impassioned argument that the “student-athletes” in these programs are being cheated out of what, after all, is promised them in the first place: a college education.  

Author Bio

Jay M. Smith is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has served in a variety of administrative capacities involving the management of undergraduate education.

Mary Willingham worked in the Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling at UNC–Chapel Hill until 2014. Both she (in 2013) and Smith (in 2014) received the Robert Maynard Hutchins Award from the Drake Group for integrity in the face of college sports corruption. Willingham now works as a middle school reading teacher for Kipp Public Charter Schools in Chicago.


"Cheated sounds an important call for reform."—Gregg Easterbrook, Wall Street Journal

"Those who care about the soul—and economics—of the $16 billion-a-year college sports industry should clear their reading calendar for Cheated."—Paul Barrett, Bloomberg Business

"[Cheated] offers a stinging critique of UNC-Chapel Hill’s handling of the academic and athletic wrongdoing that kept student athletes eligible to compete and persisted for nearly two decades."—Jane Stancill, News & Observer

"All readers interested in education, public affairs, and college athletics will find this book essential."—John Maxymuk, Library Journal

"This should be required reading for everyone."—A. R. Sanderson, CHOICE

"This excellent book is a canary in the coalmine for those who love athletics at the collegiate level."—Jorge Iber, Sport in American History

Table of Contents

List of Figures    
List of Tables    
Introduction: The Scandal beneath the Scandals    
Chapter 1. Paper-Class Central    
Chapter 2. A Fraud in Full    
Chapter 3. The Making of a Cover-up    
Chapter 4. Lost Opportunities    
Chapter 5. The University Doubles Down    
Chapter 6. On a Collision Course    
Chapter 7. “No one ever asked me to write anything before”    
Chapter 8. Tricks of the Trade    
Chapter 9. Echoes across the Land    
Conclusion: Looking to the Future    


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