"He [DJ Durkin] is a good man and a good coach,” chairman James Brady said but acknowledged the first-time head coach still had a lot to learn. (Kevin Richardson)
The University of Maryland student government association followed jubilation over the firing of head football coach DJ Durkin with further calls Thursday for resignation from the Board of Regents chair James T. Brady.
Student government association representatives said during a Thursday morning news conference that, under Brady’s guidance, the Board of Regents grossly mishandled the decision to reinstate football coach DJ Durkin following a damning investigation into the football program and the death of football player Jordan McNair.
McNair, 19, fell ill May 29 after a conditioning test that consisted of 10 110-yard sprints during an offseason workout at Maryland. He was hospitalized and died two weeks later from heatstroke at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Jonathan Allen, student body president, said firing Durkin was the bare minimum the university should have done and called for Brady to resign.
“He should be ashamed of his decisions as leader of the regents,” Allen said Thursday. “He failed the citizens of this state and more importantly he failed the student body and the campus community.”
The 17-member Board of Regents decided Tuesday to recommended the reinstatement of Durkin and athletic director Damon Evans, a move that led to calls for protests by Maryland students and sparked outrage from state lawmakers. University President Wallace Loh announced plans the same day to retire at the end of the school year.
In a change in course Wednesday night, Loh fired Durkin. According to a source with knowledge of the matter, Loh disagreed with the regents’ decision Tuesday to keep Durkin, but deferred to their wishes — until hearing the public outcry Wednesday. The source requested anonymity because he was discussing privileged, personnel information.
The source said the university is buying out the remainder of Durkin’s five-year, multimillion-dollar contract, as he was not fired for cause. The remaining value of the contract is $5.4 million.
Brady defended the regents’ decision Wednesday, telling The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board that the group went through an “exhaustive process” before deciding that Durkin and athletic director Damon Evans deserved to keep their jobs.
Allen said he hoped student governance is included in the process of searching for a new campus president following Loh’s departure.
“I do think it’s important that there is no more chaos on campus, and that we can rebuild,” he said.
Several student groups have scheduled a rally on campus Thursday at 3:30 p.m to show support for student athletes and demand further accountability from the university.
Allen said Wednesday’s reversal shows the power of the student body.
“This is a prime example of the power of student advocacy and student voice,” he said. “The fact that we were able to succeed in our goal in such a short time span really says a lot about the amount of outrage that occurred after the personnel decisions were announced.”