When the whistle blows for the final time in their college careers, too many of our profit sport athletes have little to show for all of their efforts. They are unlikely to be able to play their sports professionally. Instead, as the NCAA commercial likes to say, “they will go pro in something else.” But their participation in college sports did not guarantee them an education that would prepare them adequately for life after sports.

Paper Class Inc. will take up the fight on behalf of these athletes. It will serve as a portal and rallying point for the college sports reform movement. It will explore real solutions, push the boundaries of the current conversation of reform and mobilize action. We owe it to these young men to end their Alice-in Wonderland status as athletes who don’t get paid and students who don’t receive a real education. Their unjust treatment is a scar on all big time sports universities. It’s time to confront that injustice and do right by these young men.

Mary Willingham is the Regional Literacy Director for KIPP Delta Public Schools. She is the Founder of Paper Class Inc. and PCRead, a non-profit literacy organization.  She previously worked for 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. Other 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.

Jay M. Smith (co-founder of Paper Class Inc.) has been Professor of History at UNC-Chapel Hill since 1990. Between 1993 and 2013 he served almost without interruption in a variety of administrative capacities involving the management of undergraduate education. He has been an academic advisor for the College of Arts and Sciences, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Chair of the History department, and, for nearly five years, he was the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Curricula in the College of Arts and Sciences. He supervised the implementation of a new General Education curriculum for the University in 2004-2006, a process that brought him into close contact with administrators across the campus. Between 2010 and 2013 he also served on the university’s Educational Policy Committee. A specialist in early-modern French history, he has published three major monographs and one edited book, all on the general subject area of French cultural and political history under the ancien régime.

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Contact Mary : [email protected]