ATHENS, Ga. -- Jan Kemp, the University of Georgia professor
who was fired after publicly criticizing the university for
allowing athletes who failed remedial classes to continue playing
sports and stay in school, has died. She was 59.
Kemp's lawsuit to get reinstated led to sweeping reforms at UGA
and helped lead to tougher academic standards for athletes
Her 26-year-old son, Will Kemp, said his mother was pronounced
dead Thursday at an Athens nursing home of complications from
Alzheimer's disease. He described his mother as a person who wanted
to cure injustice.
"My mom didn't do it for the attention," he said about her
battle against the state university, where he is currently
enrolled. "It was in her nature. If she saw something unfair, she
would always handle it."
Kemp was fired from the university in 1982. She sued in federal
court the following year, claiming she was targeted because she
protested UGA's preferential treatment of athletes. The jury
awarded her $2.57 million in 1986, though that was later reduced to
Kemp was reinstated.
Before the Kemp case, athletes with SAT scores that reflected
little academic prowess were routinely admitted to Georgia. Today,
all NCAA schools must adhere to standards on test scores,
grade-point averages and the type of courses taken in high school.
"I love the University of Georgia. I love the years I've worked
there, and I'm looking forward to returning," she told The
Associated Press in May 1986.
But the shake-up made Kemp a pariah, especially among football
A newspaper columnist once wrote Kemp should be "the next
teacher in space" -- not long after Christa McAuliffe, an elementary school teacher chosen by NASA's Teacher in Space Project,
died in the shuttle Challenger explosion.
Kemp, a former English teacher, retired from the university on
disability after suffering a back injury from a car accident in 1990. Will
Kemp said his mother moved into a nursing home two years ago.