Grade for UNC Athlete's 146-Word Essay: A- Was part of fake class scandal, says tutor By Arden Dier, Newser Staff Posted Mar 28, 2014 11:21 AM CDT 14 comments Comments North Carolina coach Kevin Mitchell, right, cheers on UNC's Giovani Bernard (26) during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Robert Willett) (Newser) – A series of investigations into University of North Carolina athletics, including one by HBO's Real Sports this week, has revealed an alarming practice at the school that allowed athletes to skate through college with only "a second- or third-grade [reading] level," campus tutor Mary Willingham tells ESPN. "For an adult, that is considered illiterate." Athletic department staff members directed athletes to fake courses, or "paper classes," that only required them to write an essay—and those essays were graded quite charitably, Businessweek reported last month. Slate is now drawing attention to one such piece of, um, work. You can see it here in full, and it doesn't take long to peruse as it's ... 146 words. Despite noticeable errors, the miniscule paper on Rosa Parks was given an A-, Willingham says, adding, "I think that to keep winning and to keep these athletes eligible we had to do something, and so we cheated." She continues, "Athletes couldn't write a paper. They couldn't write a paragraph. They couldn't write a sentence yet." Former football player Deunta Williams adds, "I feel let down and disappointed that something like this could take place. I feel angry at myself for allowing it." UNC responded by calling the information old news, and noting "revamped department structures ... ensure checks and balances at every level."