Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, one of the University of Maryland’s leading boosters, said Wednesday that “there’s fault everywhere around” for the developments that led to the ouster of football coach DJ Durkin and the resignation of the chairman of the university system’s Board of Regents.
In rambling answers to questions posed at a post-election news conference, Miller broke his self-imposed silence about the events that led to and followed the death of 19-year-old Jordan McNair from heatstroke he developed at a football practice. The Senate president said the blame extended “from the top to the bottom.”
“The University of Maryland College Park has gone through five months of hell that could have been avoided, should have been avoided,” he said.
Miller at first criticized, and then defended, the Board of Regents for its initial decision to keep Durkin and call for the early retirement of university President Wallace Loh. After Gov. Larry Hogan intervened, the regents backed down and Loh fired Durkin. Regents chairman James Brady resigned over the fiasco.
“Did the regents do wrong, in stepping in? Absolutely,” Miller said. He then turned around and said that in fairness to them they had to do something because “the University of Maryland was getting hammered.”
The Senate chief also offered a defense of Durkin, though he did not directly criticize the decision to fire him.
“The coach had asked for a physician to be assigned to the team. He got turned down,” Miller said. “The coach had asked for a psychiatrist to be assigned to the team. He got turned down.”
Miller criticized media coverage of the football program, insisting rigorous training is part of the game and suggesting the sources were “the people who weren’t starting” and “the people who have been rejected in terms of their playing ability.”
“The reason you’re not the coach’s favorite is you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing in the training room,” he said.