Key takeaways from Univ. of Maryland news conference: Durkin 'a good man,' to stay; Loh takes responsibility

Days after receiving a report on “dysfunction” preceding the death of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair, the Board of Regents has decided coach DJ Durkin and Athletic Director Damon Evans will keep their jobs. But university President Wallace Loh will retire, he announced Tuesday.

Here are the key takeaways from a board press conference announcing its conclusions:

Durkin will stay on as head coach because the board did not solely blame him for problematic behavior within his program, and trust him to make things right.

Regents Chairman James Brady, who called Durkin “a good man,” said Durkin failed to supervise conditioning coach Rick Court, but that the failure is shared with Evans.

A 200-page report detailing the program’s culture said Court “engaged in abusive conduct,” including humiliating players and once throwing a trash can full of vomit.

Brady said Durkin has a “great deal of promise” and deserves more time leading the program. Durkin was suspended in August.

Durkin met with the board for 10 hours, Brady said, and regents left the meeting with faith in the coach.

Brady said regents felt problems stemmed from a lack of clarity about who reported to whom within the Maryland football program.

Brady acknowledged that Durkin faces a big job in earning the support of the university community.

Loh said problems within the athletic department fall on him. He said he will retire in June, but will see through changes in culture.

Loh, the university’s president since 2010, said the administration bears some responsibility for “dysfunction” in the athletic department. He repeated statements he made in August that the legal and moral responsibility for McNair’s death fall on the university president.

He said he would stay in his role through the end of the academic year to ensure a smooth transition as athletic officials put cultural changes in place.

“It is the captain's job to navigate that ship to calmer waters,” he said.

Loh had kind words for Evans — but not for Durkin.

Before announcing his decision to retire, Loh said Damon Evans “is, in my judgment, one of the finest athletic directors in this country and I'm proud to call him my colleague.”

Loh did not mention Durkin once during his remarks.

A source told The Baltimore Sun that Loh told regents he had reservations about allowing Durkin to return to the sidelines, but that the regents made it clear that Loh could either reinstate Durkin or be replaced with a university president who would.

Asked after the press conference if he recommended that Durkin be fired, Loh said: “I've said all I needed to say at the press conference.”

The university is moving forward with reforms.

An independent monitor will be appointed to oversee reforms in the athletic department, and Loh said he and Evans “have been working hard on an approach that will be a model for the nation.”

Brady said there will be consequences if problems continue.

“There will be no third chance for any of those involved to get this right,” he said.

Baltimore Sun reporters Talia Richman and Doug Donovan contributed to this article.

sdance@baltsun.com

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