Hours after a damning report about the University of Maryland football program leaked to media outlets Thursday, the state senator who represents College Park — and also happens to be a former member of the University System Board of Regents — offered a ringing vote of confidence to UMD President Wallace H. Loh.
In a statement, Sen. James C. Rosapepe (D-Prince George’s) said it’s “insane” that some people want to make Loh “the scapegoat” for the controversy swirling around the football team following the death of player Jordan McNair from heat exhaustion during a practice this spring.
Rosapepe urged the Board of Regents to retain Loh and focus on the people responsible for the problems within the athletic program. A week earlier, Rosapepe and seven other Prince George’s County lawmakers wrote to the regents urging them to protect Loh.
On Thursday, a special report about McNair’s death and the culture surrounding the football team that had been turned over to the regents last week was leaked to several media outlets.
The commission tasked with investigating the incident for the regents “found that the Maryland football team did not have a ‘toxic culture,’ but it did have a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out,” according to a copy of the report obtained by The Washington Post.
The Terrapins’ football coach, DJ Durkin, has been on paid leave since mid-August as internal investigations continue, and Rick Court, the team’s strengthening and conditioning coach, who is criticized frequently in the report, resigned. The regents are now weighing other personnel moves in the wake of the scandal.
Rosapepe, who served on the Board of Regents as an appointee of former Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D), said Loh should be allowed to stay in his post and help heal the university’s wounds.
“Dr. Loh has led the University to ever higher academic achievement and contributions to the economic development of Maryland through creation and dissemination of knowledge. The University is a land grant school, so these are its core missions,” Rosapepe said in his statement. “The Regents should fix what’s broken, not break what’s working.”
Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.
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