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Tutor Not Cooperating Which Sucks For UNC; Tutor's Name Revealed Which Sucks For Her More

More news! Yay for real, official news!

The N&O is reporting the former tutor at the center of UNC's investigation into alleged academic improprieties committed by members of the football team has declined to cooperate with the investigation. Well, that we already knew as well as the fact she has retained counsel. What we did not know was her name, where she worked or what she does for a living. We do now:

The News & Observer and Charlotte Observer have learned that Jennifer L. Wiley of Chapel Hill is the tutor being looked at for her possible role in the academic probe that has led to the suspension of players from football games. She's a 22-year-old elementary school teacher in Durham.

It is unclear what role, if any, Wiley played. The investigation is ongoing.

Wiley and her family declined comment when contacted in person and multiple times via e-mail and phone message by The N&O and Charlotte Observer over the past two weeks. Her father said she has representation but would not provide the lawyer's name.

The articles goes on to establish the long awaited timeline on Ms. Wiley's employment at UNC and her employment as an academic coach for Butch Davis' son Drew who is the starting QB at East Chapel Hill HS. Ms. Wiley was already working for academic support when Davis arrived in late 2006. She remained in that position until May, 2009 when her contract was not renewed. The reason given for that decision was Ms. Wiley was seen as being too friendly with the football players. Wiley also completed her degree in 2009. As for the period she worked for the Davis family, that offers a bit of a twist:

She was working as a mentor/tutor in UNC's academic support program in 2006 when Butch Davis, then the newly hired head football coach, asked for recommendations for a tutor for his son, Drew, now 17. Davis said during an interview Thursday that he was given a list of four or five people who worked in the academic support program. His family used several of the tutors, and the woman in question worked for him from December 2008 to May 2010.

Let's be clear on the timeline. Ms. Wiley worked for UNC academic support from 2006 to 2009 and worked for the Davis family from 2008 to 2010. In other words Ms. Wiley was in Davis' employ for a full year after UNC let her go for being "too friendly" members of the football team. Obviously this raises a few questions.

  • Was Butch Davis informed as to why she was was let go from academic support by either Ms. Wiley or anyone at UNC?
  • If not, should UNC had informed him given the reason for her release?
  • If so, did Davis consider it a separate issue since his arrangement with Ms. Wiley was private and not subject to review by UNC?
  • How much communication goes on between academic support and the coaching staff regarding specific tutors?

I am going speculate that while UNC felt Ms. Wiley had violated the terms of her contract with academic support by exceeding the tutor/mentor role, it was probably seen as just that. Dick Baddour has indicated nothing inappropriate went on(read: intimate relationship)between Ms. Wiley and the players. The issue academic support had with Ms. Wiley probably rests on their perception that she had skewed the lines between tutor and student. Since that was the case they opted to not renew her contract. Whether they told Butch Davis or not is really moot since his arrangement with Ms. Wiley was private.  If Davis thought his son was excelling under her instruction then why would he let her go unless there was evidence she was a crazy groupie hell bent on getting her own Lifetime Movie of the Week? Based on what I am seeing here that does not appear to be the case. Her dismissal from UNC was based on her supervisor feeling uncomfortable with the nature of Ms. Wiley's relationship with certain players. It probably did not cross their minds that relationship might be leading Ms. Wiley to helping players cheat. It is also possible that players in question took advantage of the relationship to their own benefit. It is not fair to assume this was all Ms. Wiley's fault. The players are just as culpable.

UPDATE: Confirmation of sorts for the speculation above.  Butch Davis said on Thursday he inquired if he should be concerned that Ms. Wiley was not retained and was told they simply opted not to do so. The question is why UNC chose to not say more? Legal reasons? Standard practice to not discuss why a person is terminated? Obviously UNC did not feel Ms. Wiley was prone to create further problems or else you would think they would have warned Davis. Carry on.

There are some important conclusions we can probably draw from these new details. First, it does appear to be one rogue individual and not a systematic issue. This goes back to the idea that cheating happens across the board and this is just another example of it. If found it needs to be dealt with but let's not be naive about the fact it does exist.  I suppose the question of whether Ms. Wiley actively helped players cheat while at UNC needs to be addressed. Even if that was the case, it still appears to be one person and not the whole staff. Secondly, UNC is shown to have taken steps to remove a tutor who they felt was not abiding by academic support policies. This is actually a fairly big deal. By cutting ties with Ms. Wiley in 2009, UNC is illustrating enforcement of their own policies. It is proof UNC is monitoring their staff and taking action to root out persons violating the rules. Seems to me that amounts to institutional control and not a lack of it. Granted this has not fully played out but since the honor system is now in charge and Ms. Wiley is not talking, I think UNC is satisfied they investigated all they could have and are ready to proceed to the penalty phase for the players involved. I also would point out since it is one person the academic prong will likely not rise to the level of the NCAA doing anything about it as they did at Florida St. I do not have any official confirmation of that but since UNC is operating through the honor system it seems to me the NCAA is not involved where the academic issues are concerned. Is is possible the NCAA will want to bless the ultimate disposition of the individual cases? Yes, but I think UNC has avoided the NCAA poking around on the academics issue.

One final note that pertains more to the reporting of this case. While it is nice to finally have details of what happened I am a little torn on whether the N&O should have revealed the tutor's name, place of employment and job details. For the record, I have known for roughly a month Ms. Wiley's first name and the details of UNC chancellor Holden Thorp provided yesterday pertaining to why her employment ended with UNC. I was asked by my source not to publish the information. However, even if I had been allowed to do so, I would not have. The reason being is it was not my place to put this woman's name(although I only had the first name) out there nor was it my place to reveal how or why she was let go from UNC. The purview for the latter lies with UNC. In the case of the former, I am not sure how it serves the public interest or advances the story to reveal Ms. Wiley to the world.

Now, I understand some of this is her own doing and with that comes consequences. However, given the nature of sports fans, some of who are completely nuts, you could argue at worst Ms. Wiley has been endangered here and at best her life is now a living hell. Chances are she will have to quit her job and drop completely out of sight for awhile. Some will say "well she ruined UNC's special season and did a lot of damage." Um...not really since the agent prong is a bigger factor in the loss of key players than the academic issue. Also, it is not like Ms. Wiley acted all on her lonesome.  The players are guilty too, in fact both prongs of this whole mess are mostly on the players who committed violations. Did Ms. Wiley play a role in that? Sure but even if it was her idea to write papers for players, the players can still say "no." It takes two to tango. If a player is enlisting another person to write a paper or a person is offering a player that service. So, is Ms. Wiley partially to blame for the academic scandal? Yes and being the proverbial "adult in the room" she should have acted more responsibly.  Does it mean she should be outed to the world and be put through the hell of being crucified in the court of public opinion, on message boards and by fans who have zero perspective when it comes to life in general? I am not so sure this punishment fits the crime. In all likelihood,  Ms. Wiley had good intentions and it looks like she paved the road to her own personal hell with them.