The chair of the 17-member board that recommended to retain former Maryland football head coach DJ Durkin is stepping down from the position.
James T. Brady, chairman of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, announced his resignation Thursday afternoon, in a statement on the board’s website.
In recent days, I have become the public face of both the board and its decisions related to these matters. In my estimation, my continued presence on the board will inhibit its ability to move Maryland’s higher education agenda forward. And I have no interest in serving as a distraction from that important work.
Accordingly, I will step down from the Board of Regents immediately.
I do so with thanks again to my many colleagues and friends on the board, at the University System of Maryland, and at every institution in that system. I’ll always be proud of the work we have done together and look forward to observing the many things you will accomplish for the people of this state in the years to come.
On Tuesday, the board held a news conference in Baltimore, and Brady discussed findings from the 10-week long investigation into the culture of Maryland football following the June 13 death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.
In addition to discussing the findings, Brady announced recommendations from the board to retain athletic director Damon Evans and Durkin, who was placed on administrative leave on August after an ESPN report alleged a toxic culture under his watch.
University President Wallace Loh was at the conference and accepted all the board’s recommendations, despite a report from The Washington Post that claimed Loh wanted to part ways with Durkin. The report also claimed the board’s main priority was to reinstate Durkin and would have fired Loh had he not followed their recommendations.
Loh announced his retirement in June following the current academic year at the conference, which many believed to be the result of a power struggle between the president and the governor-elected board.
Following Brady’s Tuesday announcement, Durkin was reinstated and present at the team’s practice that same day. But the following day, after widespread backlash from players, fans, students, parents and politicians – most notably Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who appointed Brady in 2015 – Loh decided to go against the board’s recommendations and fire Durkin.
Loh issued a letter to the university community Wednesday evening announcing the decision.
Since returning to campus after yesterday’s press conference, I have met with the leadership of the Student Government Association speaking on behalf of numerous student organizations; the Senate Executive Committee; Deans; department chairs; and campus leadership. The overwhelming majority of stakeholders expressed serious concerns about Coach DJ Durkin returning to the campus.
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.
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