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UNC Investigator to interview fraud whistleblower
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (CBSSports) -- The school's independent investigator in the North Carolina academic fraud scandal says he will interview whistleblower Mary Willingham, CBSSports.com has learned.
Washington, D.C., attorney Kenneth Wainstein was hired by the school 3 weeks ago to look into claims of academic fraud involving athletes by Willingham and others. Willingham had reached out contacting Wainstein recently. She is a former academic advisor at UNC who claims there was widespread academic fraud among North Carolina athletics for more than a decade.
"Yes, they are planning to speak to Mary Willingham," Wainstein spokesman Brendan Riley told CBSSports.com.
When that will be is uncertain, Riley said.
"I called him," Willingham said on Sunday. "I told him, 'Here I am.' This is what I want him to do."
Willingham also told Wainstein any interview may require her to have legal representation. She is assisting the plaintiffs in the O'Bannon class-action anti-trust lawsuit against the NCAA.
If the two sides do not settle, the O'Bannon trial is set to begin June 9.
"I will be checking in with [O'Bannon attorney] Michael Hausfeld to let him know that we spoke, and that we may speaking again. It may be necessary for me to be represented during that meeting," Willingham wrote in an email dated March 10.
She shared the email with CBSSports.com.
"There is much that I have said/told here that is already on the record," Willingham wrote to Wainstein who was retained by North Carolina on Feb. 21.
Part of the scandal revolves around Willingham's assertions that 8-10 percent of the North Carolina athletes she screened between 2005-2012 were"functionally illiterate." Her allegations have touched off a firestorm at the NCAA, academic and athletic levels.
None of the information offered to Wainstein is particularly new. In the email she directs him to a 2010 interview with a UNC vice provost and information she sent to North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin in 2012.
Wainstein formerly worked for the U.S. Justice Dept. and FBI. He was hired by the NCAA as an independent investigator in the Miami case after it was determined the association's enforcement staff had engaged a third-party attorney to improperly obtain information. The NCAA eventually threw out 20 percent of the information gathered in the case to that point.
Willingham also has started a website -- paperclassinc.com -- that houses a summary of her allegations. She added there have been inquiries about a screenplay regarding her story.
Willingham said she will not benefit financially in any O'Bannon verdict favorable to the plaintiffs.
"This isn't about making any money," she told CBSSports.com. "I worry about stepping over that line. I don't need it. I don't want it."
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