By Harry Allison
The governing board at the University of Maryland that was investigation the death of a football player allowed the head coach and athletic director to keep their jobs, while accepting the unexpected retirement of the school’s president, Wallace D. Loh.
The decision was an attempt to put an end to a controversy that began on May 29 when the player, Jordan McNair, a 19-year-old offensive lineman, suffered heatstroke in a hard-charging practice. He died two weeks later.
McNair’s death spurred two investigations, an ESPN report that revealed a “toxic culture” of bullying and humiliating players, and a decision to put the football coach and members of his staff on administrative leave.
The announcement that the head football coach, D. J. Durkin, and the athletic director, Damon Evans, would keep their jobs immediately raised the question of whether the university was putting its quest to succeed in big-time football ahead of accountability for its players’ well-being.
At a news conference Tuesday, Mr. McNair’s father, Marty McNair, said of the decision: “I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in my face.”
The head of the Board of Regents, James T. Brady, defended the program on Tuesday, but he did say that problems had festered because “too many players feared speaking out.”
That was also the conclusion of a report commissioned by the university to look into the athletic department. But Brady said, the report found “no direct link between the administrative dysfunction” and Mr. McNair’s death.
In a statement released by the university, Mr. Durkin said he was “grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team and very much appreciate having the support of the Board of Regents.”
“As we move forward, I am confident that our team will successfully represent the entire University in a positive way both on and off the field,” the statement added.
The board recommended that Durkin and Evans remain on staff because, Mr. Brady said, they deserved a chance to fix the department. In August, Mr. Loh said he accepted “legal and moral responsibility” for Mr. McNair’s death.