On ESPN’s SportsCenter last night in the “One Big Thing” segment, UMD alumnus and host Scott Van Pelt called for the Maryland Board of Regents to do the right thing and fire everyone.
He ‘s right, too. The full clip:
President Wallace Loh, woefully incompetent throughout this entire process, adeptly maneuvered through the University’s political circles to reverse what was a unanimous Board of Regrets decision at one point last week to fire all three of Wallace Loh, AD Damon Evans, and head coach DJ Durkin.
Instead, the board called in all three individuals separately, were impressed by what they had to say for themselves, and did the unfathomable: Nothing. They kept all three.
SVP is right, and Maryland fans have sat in awe as it’s happened: The University has somehow made the wrong decision at every single juncture of this investigation. From not immediately replacing all trainers involved, to slow playing the investigation to the Walters Firm, to not reaching out to Jordan McNair, and now to this, Maryland has yet to make the right decision.
What does Maryland need to do?
Maryland needs to clean house from the AD up through the Board of Regents.* Full stop.
- Damon Evans, as detailed in the full “toxic culture” report, was the one who made the decision to deny DJ Durkin’s request for a team physician, team psychiatrist, and—unfathomably—his request to replace the entire training staff after McNair passed away. Damon Evans should be fully held accountable for these actions. President Loh and Evans have parroted the line that he only became the AD and fully in charge after the McNair incident, but this is a farce and a PR stunt. Evans has worked as the COO within the AD since 2015, was responsible for hiring Durkin, and was the head over football operations and the acting AD for at least a year prior to becoming the full time AD.
- Wallace Loh is ultimately responsible for this PR nightmare, as all of the decisions have come from him—so he needs to go. He has driven this train, straight into the ground, might I add, and has ignored the advice of many people throughout the process.
The PR disaster that Maryland is in right now starts and ends with him. His office is also the one who has been leaking all of the information to the various media outlets prior to news conferences from the BoR in attempts to cover his own ass in the process.
- The Board of Regents needs to go, too. They are political appointees and that process is harder but I am confident that they’ve done enough to warrant political action within Maryland to get this done. All sides of the isle are outraged at this and hearings have already been scheduled.
*There is an alternative that many MD fans have floated, a separate BoR over UMCP with all 14 USM colleges, but that is a longer systemic change that is a long shot to occur.
Where do they go from here?
As noted by SVP above, Maryland woefully needs someone who is going to put Maryland first and drive them out of this mess. They need someone who loves Maryland and is not using it as a stepping stone for their next gig. They’ve had years and years of this and the departmental atmosphere is straight toxicity and dysfunction all the way down. Everyone is looking to cover their own ass rather than further the University.
My solution? Maryland needs a Gary Williams type to steer them ahead and set the tone for the future of the athletic department. Gary is up there in age and is obviously not a permanent solution but I cannot think of anyone else at the moment that would be better for this.
What about a coach? Maryland obviously needs a new head coach going into the future, and that is something that another article will have to address. I can only hope that this time, unlike the AD search, they are really taking the recommendations of alumni and the search committee rather than looking inward and ignoring everyone at the table (thanks, Loh).
Media Exploiting the Story
The reputation of Billy Murphy, the McNair family lawyer, relies on feasting on Maryland. He is champing at the bit for any news possible to further paint Maryland in a terrible light.
In that search he has left no stone unturned and has reached out to players for insights as well for this information, which I find completely disgusting. A grown man is using 18 year olds and turning them against each other in their grief for the death of a friend, a friend whose parents he represents, all to make money.
The latest incident that has been reported by him would be a fight that occurred on Halloween at practice. Walk on kicker/punter Matthew Barber got into a fight with starting punter Wade Lees, a 30 year old former Australian rugby player. Barber ended up with stitches and a dislocated shoulder in the incident and within an hour of it occurring had contacted Murphy to spill a story of players holding him down so he could be beaten while Durkin watched on.
Murphy ran to the press with it (along with Facebook) and off went the Baltimore Sun with the story of Durkin enabling violence at his first practice back. Well, it turns out, the entire team has refuted this story (along with Ellis McKennie, which really did it for me as he is McNair’s HS teammate and walked out of the meeting where Durkin returned). What really happened was Barber was picking on younger players, and Lees stepped in to stop it. Barber threw a punch, missed (and dislocated his shoulder), and Lees finished the fight (if you will).
I only include that to say the national media, and local media alike, have went off the rails in seeing how many ways they can skewer Maryland. No one is fact checking anything, and the school continues to remain silent on everything. The school just takes it on the chin. Every. Single. Time.
Kudos to the players, who are the real victims here—outside of McNair and his family—for finally stepping up and being the adults in the room to end some of this nonsense.
And kudos to you, SVP, for going on a national stage to tell your alma mater to get their heads out of their ass and make things right.