Error in judgment – DJ Durkin reinstatement.

We learned yesterday about the reinstatement of Maryland coach DJ Durkin. First, you must know my perception that in the big picture, there are not a massive amount of Maryland football fans obsessed with their team. I’m not here to tell you there aren’t enthusiastic supporters of the team or people that follow Maryland football. I’m just making an obvious statement. Except for a few years over the last thirty when the team had three straight years of double-digit victories, the Terps have had five seasons when they won only two games and have been mediocre at best. Their home games on campus are rarely sold out. So, let’s not get too excited about Maryland football. Maryland has primarily had success in basketball, in fact contending for the NCAA tournament every year and having a recent national championship.

Having said all that, the Maryland football program is still an important part of the culture and campus life, something to look forward to and something that is watched and supported. They are in the Big 10, one of the most recognizable conferences in the country and have talented student-athletes on their football team which compete at the highest level.

When representatives on behalf of the University yesterday announced Durkin would be reinstated, this writer was too “sick” literally about the decision to comment immediately and wanted to digest it for a day before reacting. We have been all over Maryland for many months to fire Durkin and now he’s reinstated yesterday? What am I missing here? Maryland waited for a long second investigation to be completed while he remained on administrative suspension for what reason, we have no idea.

The findings of that investigation while not finding a “toxic “environment, still clearly showed Durkin at best was negligent in his role as head coach and at worst, incompetent. There’s nothing in the middle. It’s either one or the other. Why?

Because here is what we know. We know that two trainers who are responsible for the health and well-being of the players on the Maryland football team, were dismissed over Jordan McNair’s death. Their boss was DJ Durkin. We know their strength and conditioning assistant coach Rick Court, who was accused of bullying among other things, was dismissed and bought out of his contract. His boss was DJ Durkin. We know McNair died during a football practice in which DJ Durkin was responsible for his health and well-being as his coach. All that’s indisputable. That’s what we know.
Based on what we know, Maryland publicly took legal and moral responsibility for the death of Jordan McNair months ago. Yet, Durkin was not fired. What more did they need? It happened on Durkin’s watch. I have no idea why Durkin was not fired then.

Why was he reinstated yesterday? That, to me, was incomprehensible, shocking and appalling. The backlash that resulted from this implausible decision was overwhelming. The Maryland administrators could do nothing as this train was leaving the station and was out of control. There were immediate protests from everyone—students, family members of McNair, faculty and most of all, the Court of public opinion. There were going to be future actions of discourse and criticism and most importantly, it was inconceivable that Durkin could survive with this onslaught of hostility. Maryland, which originally showed itself to be transparent and compassionate, somehow did a 180° turn and displayed an incredible lack of understanding to their community, the football team and the public at large. In the end, Durkin’s firing was forced upon Maryland by the activism of so many people who knew what was morally right. Those committed individuals should be praised, recognized and saluted as an injustice was avoided. We don’t care if Durkin is fired for cause or collects on his entire contract, the college football world knew he had to go.

Maryland has now left a stain on its program and even though they are having a good season at 5-3 and a chance to make a bowl, this decision will haunt them forever. The individuals who were involved in the ultimate reinstatement probably now are focused on damage control to save their jobs. That can’t happen. All these individuals must resign or be fired. Their presence in any position of authority or power is an insult to the legacy of Jordan McNair. Clearly, they just didn’t understand what is so obvious to others with just the irrefutable information available. We pray for Jordan McNair and his memory and we continue to campaign for the dismissal of anyone complicit in this reinstatement process. This is arguably the most egregious error in judgment this writer has ever seen at the college level. People must be held accountable. God bless Jordan McNair. His memory will live forever.


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