Political figures across Maryland condemning university after D.J. Durkin decision

Yahoo Sports

The reinstatement of Maryland coach D.J. Durkin is not being greeted with open arms across the school or state.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) became the latest state political figure to condemn the school for its decision to keep Durkin as head coach. In a statement released Wednesday evening, Hogan said the Maryland board of regents should “reconsider their decisions” and “schedule a public hearing to address these issues in an open and transparent manner.”

“I am deeply troubled by the lack of transparency from the Board of Regents, and deeply concerned about how they could have possibly arrived at the decisions announced yesterday,” Hogan said. “I share the concerns of many Marylanders and believe very strongly that more must be done to restore the public trust.”

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Maryland announced Tuesday that Durkin, school president Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans would retain their jobs, though Loh (who reportedly wanted to fire Durkin) announced he would be retiring at the end of the school year. The announcements came as Maryland’s board of regents said it accepted the findings from investigations into the football program in the wake of offensive lineman Jordan McNair’s death.

Hogan acknowledged he does not have the authority to make university personnel decisions, but said he demands accountability and transparency from the school.

“While the university system is required by law to operate independent of political influence, and as such no governor has the ability to hire or fire any university personnel or members of the Board of Regents, I can and will demand that the university is held accountable for making the reforms they have pledged to put in place with the full transparency that the students, parents, and faculty expect and deserve.

“The University System of Maryland has let down the University of Maryland community and the citizens of Maryland, and now is the time to fix it.”

Lawmakers call for hearing with Maryland regents

According to the Washington Post, a group of state legislators have called for a November hearing to “publicly hold regents to account for the controversy surrounding the Maryland football team.” On top of that, a group of “25 Democratic state lawmakers” sent a letter to University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert Caret calling for the regents to fire Durkin.

From the Washington Post:

“The board just forced out the one person [Loh] who decided to do right by our students while pressuring the university to keep the coach who didn’t,” the letter said. “These decisions have turned a tragedy into a national embarrassment.”

The lawmakers praised Loh for his “moral courage.” They argued the personnel decisions would have far-reaching implications, making it difficult to attract top leaders to a University System willing to undermine them. They urged the regents to fire Durkin.

State Rep: ‘Coach Durkin should be fired’

Earlier Wednesday, Rep. Anthony Brown (D) released a statement calling for Durkin to be fired by the school a day after he was reinstated.

“The University of Maryland athletic staff failed Jordan McNair and on Tuesday the USM Board of Regents failed him again,” Brown’s statement 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 make meaningful changes and save other families from this heartache.

“Rather than take necessary action, the Board of Regents’ highest priority was to reinstate head football coach DJ Durkin. This is appalling and unconscionable. Board Chairman James Brady shamefully accepted Durkin’s excuse that he was not responsible or accountable for anything going on in his football program …

“Coach Durkin should be fired. Director Evans should be fired. And Governor [Larry] Hogan’s hand-picked Board Chairman 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.”

SGA wants Durkin fired, too

The Student Government Association meets Wednesday night and will request that Loh fire Durkin.

The SGA is also planning a protest for Thursday afternoon. Durkin had been on administrative leave since August and the team is 5-3 under interim coach Matt Canada.

“People are appalled at this,” SGA president Jonathan Allen told ESPN. “When I spoke to stakeholders — media, alums, donors — over the last few months, as this has been transpiring, they all said there’s no way Durkin comes back from this. And yet he’s returning and the president is the one that’s leaving?

“When the system fails, the next obvious step is a grassroots push, being vocal and showing the outrage and sentiments students have had with these decisions.”

McNair family also unhappy

The protest comes after McNair’s father expressed unhappiness with the decision to keep Durkin. Martin McNair said Tuesday afternoon that he felt “like I’ve been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in my face.”

It was clear from Maryland’s press conference that Loh was not comfortable with Durkin returning as the team’s coach. He didn’t mention Durkin’s name and when asked about Durkin and other football-related questions would only say that he was following the board’s recommendations.

Loh, according to reporting by ESPN on Tuesday, wanted to fire Durkin.

Two investigations were conducted after McNair died in June because of heatstroke suffered in a May workout. The first concluded that Maryland’s staff made mistakes treating McNair in the immediate aftermath of the workout. The second came while Durkin was on administrative leave after reports of a “toxic” culture in the football program. That investigation concluded the program lacked a culture of accountability, did not provide adequate oversight of the football program, and failed to provide Mr. Durkin with the tools, resources, and guidance necessary to support and educate a first-time head coach in a major football conference.”

The only person that has lost his job is strength coach Rick Court. A protest could also be held at Saturday’s game vs. Michigan State.


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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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