UMD President Tells Maryland House He Warned Regents About Keeping Football Coach

What to Know

  • An independent investigation into McNair’s death determined trainers at the scene did not follow proper procedures.
  • The trainers had been on leave since August.
  • The school fired football coach DJ Durkin last week.

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh said he warned the University System of Maryland Board of Regents about recommending keeping football coach DJ Durkin after the death of 19-year-old player Jordan McNair, who died of heatstroke in June two weeks after collapsing during a football workout.

At a Maryland House appropriations hearing, Loh said he told the regents it was a big mistake to keep Durkin.

“And I said if you bring him back, quote, ‘All hell would break lose,’” he said.

Loh said he wanted to fire the coach, but when he was overruled by the Board of Regents Loh, he announced his decision to retire. The next day, Loh fired Durkin.

“We lost sight of the bigger picture: the ability of the university to move forward,” said Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden, who replaced James Brady, who stepped down as chair in the backlash of the Durkin recommendation. “College Park’s football program needed new leadership, and that need should have driven our decision.”

Gooden said she was not present and didn't vote. She said a majority of regents wanted to retain the coach, though it was not unanimous.

“It seems to me they the missed all the things that they should have done,” said House Speaker Michael Busch (D). “Ultimately, the coach is responsible for the oversight of the entire program.”

Loh said he decided to buy out coach Durkin’s contract for $5 million. Members of the House suggested the coach could have been fired for cause, saving the university money.

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