A recent Public Policy Poll shows that most North Carolinians hold a favorable view of UNC-Chapel Hill – and that most people don’t closely follow allegations of academic fraud involving athletes.
Director of ¬Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling Tom Jensen has perhaps some surprising findings for those of us living inside the UNC bubble:
“These poll results sort of indicate that most people aren’t actually following this very closely,” says Jensen. “You ask people what they think about Mary Willingham, who, of course, is so well-known to people who are really invested in this story. But statewide, almost 80 percent of people have never heard of her.”
To be exact: According to a recent PPP survey of 877 North Carolina voters, 77 percent of them are unsure of their opinion of the UNC whistleblower, while 12 percent have a favorable opinion and 11 percent have an unfavorable opinion of her.
Not only that, but 65 percent of North Carolina residents are unsure how to rate UNC Chancellor Carol Folt’s job performance. Otherwise, 18 percent approve and 17 percent disapprove.
Meanwhile, UNC retains high approval overall. Twenty-seven percent have a “very favorable” opinion, while 38 percent hold a “somewhat favorable” view.
Fifteen percent have a “somewhat unfavorable” opinion, while only seven percent feel “very unfavorable” and 13 percent are “not sure.”
“Certainly there are some people who have a lower opinion of it than they did before everything that’s happened over the last three years. “But it still remains overall, positive. And there’s a feeling, I think, that most of what’s happened at UNC is just emblematic of college athletics in general.”
In fact, the poll finds that only eight percent of respondents said that the recent controversy is something unique to UNC, while 70 percent said these kinds of things happen at every Division One program.
“Among NC State fans, 55 percent still see UNC favorably,” says Jensen. “Among Duke fans, 59 percent still see UNC favorably. Among Wake Forest fans, 73 percent still see UNC favorably.”
Do you catch that? Fifty-nine percent of Duke students still view UNC favorably.
The poll was conducted before former UNC basketball player Rashad McCants made recent allegations that he took “paper classes” at UNC, and had work completed for him by tutors, all with the knowledge and blessing of Coach Roy Williams.
But Jensen said he doubts that the new accusations would have made much difference.
“I don’t think that’s going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for anybody if they hadn’t gotten there already,” says Jensen.