UMD fires head football coach D.J. Durkin

    UMD fires head football coach D.J. Durkin

    MARYLAND -- WBFF -- The University of Maryland College Park has reportedly fired football head coach D.J. Durkin.

    This comes after football player Jordan McNair died after he was hospitalized following an organized team workout back in May.

    This also comes a day after the University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced that Durkin would keep his job as head football coach.

    UMD President Wallace Loh announced on Tuesday that he would retire next June. The announcement to keep Durkin drew criticism from players and the University community.

    UMD President Wallace Loh told the campus community that following the Board of Regents decision, he met with members of the Student Government Association and they expressed concerns about Durkin returning to the campus. Loh said to the campus community, "The chair of the Board of Regents has publicly acknowledged that I had previously raised serious concerns about Coach Durkin’s return.

    This is not at all a reflection of my opinion of Coach Durkin as a person. However, a departure is in the best interest of the University, and this afternoon Coach Durkin was informed that the University will part ways.

    This is a difficult decision, but it is the right one for our entire University. I will devote the remaining months of my presidency to advancing the needed reforms in our Athletic Department that prioritize the safety and well-being of our student-athletes."

    Durkin was initially placed on administrative leave following a report that the athletic program was a toxic environment.

    Gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous said, "It should not have taken a full day of criticism from the public, but I am relieved to learn that the university has finally dismissed DJ Durkin. The previous decision by the Board of Regents was absolutely shameful and I credit the courage of so many students, alumni, parents, and lawmakers for today's reversal. We must continue to ask how the Regents arrived at their original vote and I thank state legislators for planning public hearings to find out exactly what happened.

    Even with the removal of Durkin, we still do not have the full reset needed in the University of Maryland Athletics Department. Athletics Director Damon Evans was responsible for overseeing the football program and was unable to ensure the health and safety of its student athletes. A student athlete died because Evans did not make sure the football staff followed best practices for preventing heatstroke. He cannot be trusted to lead a search for a permanent replacement for Durkin and therefore should not be retained. The Athletics Department needs a new start. Plain and simple.

    But most importantly, how can we now trust the top official overseeing the entire university system, Board of Regents Chair Jim Brady? If he could not lead the Regents to the correct decision in this case, then he is simply not able to lead our state's public institutions of higher learning. If Larry Hogan believes his Board of Regents Chair made a mistake when it came to ensuring the safety of our student athletes, then how can he in good conscience leave Brady in power? The governor absolutely has the power to remove his appointee from the Board of Regents and should do so immediately."

    According to Article II, Section 15 of the Maryland Constitution, "The Governor...may remove for incompetency, or misconduct, all civil officers who received appointment from the Executive for a term of years." This applies to offices created by both statute and the constitution, and refers to appointees who were confirmed by the Senate."

    Chancellor William Kirwan says, "We strongly support the decision of Dr. Wallace Loh to terminate the employment of football Coach D.J. Durkin. Dr. Loh’s action today will be remembered as a courageous and important decision in Maryland higher education. We respect Dr. Loh’s judgement that the termination Coach Durkin’s contract is in the best interests of the university.

    But history will judge Dr. Loh’s decision to be important for more fundamental reasons. Dr. Loh has taken this action despite an apparent ultimatum from the Board of Regents that he must retain Coach Durkin or else be terminated as president immediately. In effect, the Board of Regents was taking the unprecedented action of determining who would be the university’s football coach. To the best of our knowledge, in the 30 year history of the University System, no board of regents has ever made decisions about campus personnel, except those involving the president.

    The Board of Regents should not be in the business of hiring or firing a football coach, or any faculty or staff. This would set an untenable precedent for the university system and would seriously harm Maryland’s reputation in the national higher education community. No respected higher education system would permit it. Maryland’s national reputation for strong higher education governance is at stake. We applaud Dr. Loh for his courageous assertion of these principles and his protection of the independence of the campus. We call upon Chairman Brady and the Board of Regents to publicly affirm their support for the principle, followed by all major academic institutions, that the governing board is a policy setting body that appoints presidents, holds them accountable for their performance and grants them the authority to manage the institution, including all personnel decisions.

    We also join the many calls for Dr. Loh to reconsider his decision to retire this June. We believe Dr. Loh’s leadership is critical for the university at this challenging time and we call upon the Board of Regents to publicly affirm its support for Dr. Loh continuing leadership of the state’s flagship university."

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