By: Eddie Hobbs
The University System Maryland Board of Regents formed today in front of the media to uncover their findings inside the Maryland Football Program, and to discuss the futures of head coach DJ Durkin, Athletic Director Damon Evans, and University President Wallace Loh.
This marks the end of a long and dragged out process where the Board of Regents met multiple times to go over the findings of the 198-page report that the eight-person commission shared with the board on Oct. 19, 2018.
The board considered the findings on Oct. 23, 2018, and the report was leaked by the Washington Post on Oct. 25, 2018. The board accepted “all findings and recommendations obtained in the commission report,” according to Board of Regents Chairman James Brady.
The final decision was to retain both Evans and Durkin, while Loh will finish out his final year at Maryland, and is set to retire in June of 2018.
Brady said of the decision to bring Durkin back: “We made a decision based upon a very strong belief amongst the regents that [Durkin] is absolutely prepared to move in a direction that is totally consistent with the values of the university.”
Last week, the Board of Regents met with Loh, Evans and Durkin. Brady mentioned how all three of the individuals accepted that they “shared responsibility for the dysfunction within the Athletic Department.”
Brady also acknowledged how all three share the same goal in changing the culture of the Maryland football Program by implementing the suggestions from the report by the commission.
The board said that it wanted to be clear that they needed to implement the suggestions by the commission immediately.
Some of the suggestions included that the head football coach shouldn’t be able to supervise the strength and conditioning coaches, that the University implement an “Independent Medical Care Model” and improvement needs to be made on the accountability of the Athletics Department.
Brady expects the office of the attorneys general to conclude its legal review and then to advise what the University of Maryland and the University Systems of Maryland should do next.
“The adoption of an independent medical model is chief among them [one of the suggestions by the commission] and it must be implemented immediately,” Brady said. “While this is not necessarily a standard practice at universities across the nation, it is the best practice, and it will be our practice.”
President Loh approached the podium after Brady and mentioned how Evans and himself are “absolutely committed” to implementing the reforms suggested by the commission. Loh doubled down on his comments he made back on Aug. 14, 2018, where he stated that the university “accepted moral and legal responsibility” in the death of Jordan McNair as well.
“Today, I stand by that statement 100 percent and I will do everything possible to fulfill that responsibility,” Loh said.
Evans, who served as the executive athletic director in 2016, and the acting athletic director between April 2018 through July 2018, is continuing his position as the deputy athletic director, and Brady discussed what reassured him that Evans could continue to serve in that role.
“He talked about what he had done over the last several months, in terms of addressing the dysfunction in the department, and he had a plan that made sense to us, and a plan that we think can restructure the athletic department,” Brady said.
Evans most noteworthy responsibility is going to be the decisions on the employments of strength and conditioning coaches Wes Robinson and Steve Nordwall. According to Loh, Evans will be responsible with the decision to determine the fate of the two, who were first put on administrative leave on Aug. 13, 2018.
The commissions’ report stated instances with players where Robinson would speak on behalf of the student-athletes without letting the players themselves comment on their condition to the doctors.
Loh didn’t leave before praising Evans and saying that he believes that Evans is, “one of the finest athletic directors in this country.”
“I am pleased that the board has confidence in Athletic Director Damon Evans, and his leadership,” Loh said. “Since he became appointed athletic director in early July of 2018, he has put that department on the path towards becoming more united, more cohesive, and more thriving.”