U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D) slammed the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Wednesday for its recommendation to reinstate football coach DJ Durkin and Athletic Director Damon Evans a day earlier, and he urged the panel’s chairman to resign.
“Coach Durkin should be fired. Director Evans should be fired. And Governor [Lawrence J.] Hogan’s hand-picked Board Chairman [James T.] Brady should resign for the extreme callousness and ineptitude he demonstrated by putting his own personal vendettas and agenda ahead of the welfare of our students,” Brown said in a statement.
Brown’s comments come after the school’s governing board voted to accept the resignation of U-Md. President Wallach D. Loh. The turmoil at the state’s flagship university follows the practice-field death of football player Jordan McNair, who collapsed after running wind sprints in May. He died six weeks later.
Media reports subsequently described a “toxic” culture in the football program at Maryland, one where the strength and conditioning coach pushed players to the breaking point. The accounts also raised questions about whether more prompt medical treatment would have kept McNair, a 19-year-old offensive lineman from Randallstown, alive.
Following the media accounts, which drew national attention to the school, the Board of Regents ordered an investigation.
“The University of Maryland athletic staff failed Jordan McNair, and on Tuesday the USM Board of Regents failed him again,” Brown said. “They did not treat Jordan McNair like a person. They did not treat Jordan like someone’s child. They did not treat Jordan like the high-achieving young person who was worthy of being nurtured and developed into the accomplished man he could’ve become.”
“They failed to protect him from a toxic environment, an abusive coaching staff, and a system rife with neglect at all levels. Jordan’s tragic death was entirely preventable, and the appropriate way to honor his legacy was to urgently making meaningful changes and save other families from this heartache.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Hogan did not directly fault the board for its actions but did raise concerns.
“Many will understandably question whether enough has been done to address the serious concerns that exist among many in the College Park community — I am one of them,” he said.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Benjamin T. Jealous said the school has become a national “embarrassment.” He too called on the AD and head coach to be fired.
When media reports — primarily from ESPN — surfaced, Loh met with the McNair family and later said the school accepts legal and moral responsibility for his death. The family has hired high-profile attorney Billy Martin to represent them.
Durkin will be back on the sidelines this Saturday when the Terrapins host Michigan State.
Strength and conditioning coach Rick Court resigned over the summer after being given a six-figure settlement.
Reaction to the Regents’ decision to reinstate Durkin and Evans, while having Loh resign next spring, has been almost uniformly negative. Students plan a protest rally on Thursday.
Loh has been credited with lifting academic standards at the university, forging new research opportunities, boosting the school’s profile nationally and raising funds.
The College Park campus is represented in Congress by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D) but Brown represents parts of the surrounding community.