Mary Willingham: Enough Already


I again find myself on the receiving end of a hateful campaign of vilification and defamation. This time my enemies have been given UNC emails for the sole purpose of harassment, and have made public matters that are entirely private; these matters have literally nothing to do with the issues on which I have been outspoken for the past several years.

Over those same several years I have heard many insults. I have been called:

Racist, elitist, ugly, (these first three are my favorites), asexual, greedy, plagiarist, ABC’er, stupid, liar, disgruntled, crazy, media/attention seeker, cheater, sloppy researcher, incompetent, irresponsible, menopausal, exaggerator, unqualified, impostor, and puppet. In addition, people have attacked my husband, kids and our family businesses. How much truth was in any of these labels? Many people feel free to sit in judgment of me and my life. But do they even know what they’re judging?

Whistleblowing is not for the meek. Just last week, Buck Sanders of Inside Carolina said that I,  along with Jay Smith and the N&O, should be drenched in gasoline and lit on fire in a parking lot. Nice?  It is not the truth telling that ruins lives–it’s the emotional trauma inflicted by those who don’t want to hear the truth. That trauma has been steady and severe. I’ve personally been discredited every which way to Sunday. It has become tiresome; it was always irrelevant.

Meanwhile, our athletes are still not getting what we promise them – a real education. The underlying issue of race, which has been swimming just below the surface, is now emerging into the daylight. And that’s where our focus needs to be–not on the many decoys that my enemies have been distracting us with for years. My personal life, which sane people recognize should be off limits anyway, has no place in the discussion about college athletes and reform. I know that I won’t be discussing it at all.

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