Board of regents to be briefed Friday on investigation into University of Maryland football culture

The University System of Maryland’s governing body will be briefed Friday on the results of an investigation into the University of Maryland, College Park’s football culture after the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair and subsequent media reports that the team was ruled by bullying and intimidation.

The briefing will be held in closed session during the Board of Regents regularly scheduled meeting in Hagerstown.

The board will meet again in closed session Tuesday morning in Baltimore to further discuss the investigation results and begin making recommendations, according to a Wednesday news release. But it could be an additional week before the board publicly shares the investigation’s findings.

The board of regents in August assumed control of a pair of investigations into the state flagship’s football team after McNair died of heatstroke following a summer practice. The first review — the results of which were released Sept. 21 — was commissioned to analyze protocols and procedures related to the teenager’s death.

It found athletics staff made a slew of errors May 29, the day McNair fell ill during practice. University president Wallace Loh has publicly said the school takes “legal and moral responsibility” for mistakes in treating the 19-year-old athlete.

The second investigation was tasked with examining allegations of a “toxic culture” on the team. Players, parents and fans have been eagerly awaiting the results — though they’re mixed on what they hope the investigation will find. Some remain loyal to suspended coach DJ Durkin and believe the allegations uncovered in media reports are overblown. Others feel the final report ought to lead to Durkin’s firing because he enabled abusive behavior to flourish on the team.

An ESPN article published in August cites several anonymous former players and staffers who described a program led by coach Durkin that demeaned and embarrassed team members.

The eight-person commission — which includes former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, retired U.S. District Court judges Ben Legg and Alex Williams, and former prosecutor Charlie Scheeler — has been interviewing players and parents for weeks in an attempt to discern the truth.

“We have said from the beginning that, if true, the allegations related to the culture of the football program at the University of Maryland, College Park are unacceptable,” Board of Regents Chair James Brady said in a statement. “We have also said we are determined to get all the facts possible before acting.”

While the regents have the power to fire university presidents, they don’t have jurisdiction over athletics department personnel.

The Terps are already six games into the season.

After Friday’s meeting, “members of the board will need appropriate time to study the findings, ask follow-up questions, come to conclusions, and consider any potential outcomes,” Brady said. “As public servants, we have an obligation to take the time necessary to get this right. Once the board has had the time it needs to review the findings, the information will be shared with people of Maryland in a fully transparent fashion.”

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