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Bullies finally being held accountable for their culpability

I’m writing about the University of Maryland Board of Regents for the third time this week. I’m running out of synonyms for morons and idiots.

I better find some. This group of gangsters seems oblivious to decency, clueless about compassion, perplexed about public perception when it comes to making the right decisions about the school’s future moving forward from the death of 19-year-old football player Jordan McNair.

Fortunately, as much as the gangsters would love to run their fiefdom like strong-armed dictators, they are accountable to the rest of the human race and the reactions nationwide to the horror of trying to retain head football coach DJ Durkin — the head man with the responsibility to protect the young athletes parents placed in his care, an obligation he miserably failed to fulfill.

The University of Maryland System Board of Regents, in a stunningly short-sighted and ham-handed attempt to protect Durkin, ordered university president Wallace Loh to reinstate the coach, who had been suspended since an August ESPN report first uncovered the “toxic” practices taking place within the Maryland football program.

The report raised legitimate questions about whether the culture in Durkin’s football program contributed to McNair’s death in June following a collapse two weeks earlier during an off season workout.

Durkin’s reinstatement sparked a 24-hour firestorm locally and nationally, from media, school supporters and politicians, until finally Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan — a week out from Election Day and seeking a second term — spoke out.

“I share the concerns of many Marylanders and believe very strongly that more must be done to restore the public trust,” Hogan said. “I am calling on both the University of Maryland Board of Regents and President Wallace Loh to reconsider their decisions and to schedule a public hearing to address these issues in an open and transparent manner.”

Gangsters don’t do open and transparent.

But Hogan’s statement was all the cover that Loh needed to ignore the regents. Durkin was out less than two hours after Hogan’s statement.

The regents somehow managed to make Loh — the man who forced the move to the Big 10 six years ago, breaking state law in the process and, by the way, hardly an innocent in the Durkin drama — a sympathetic figure.

Loh, who said he still plans to retire next summer, will now be seen as someone who finally had the guts to stand up to the bullies — there are plenty of them — in this story.

One, board of regents chairman James T. Brady, stepped down Thursday, a day after the coach he’d gone to bat for was sent packing and two days after he’d declared, among other tone-deaf comments, that in bringing back Durkin, “There will be no third chance for any of those involved to get this right.”

Remember, we’re talking about the death of a football player here. Brady considered bringing Durkin back a do-over.

Turns out there will be no second chance, after all, for Durkin. Or Brady, for that matter.

By all rights, it shouldn’t stop there. Athletic director Damon Evans — an empty suit who spent much of his time as assistant AD stabbing his boss, Kevin Anderson (another unindicted co-conspirator in this mess) in the back — needs to be gone. But now, it’s hard to imagine how any member of that board of regents can serve the school, even if they were bullied into supporting the Durkin return by Brady. If they remained silent, they remained culpable.

Brady is a political animal, the chairman of Hogan’s 2014 campaign for governor. According to sources, he had the full support and backing from the $21 million man, the vice chairman of the board — longtime booster Barry P. Gossett, a Durkin backer.

In April, Gossett announced he was donating $21.25 million to establish the Barry and Mary Gossett Center for Academic and Personal Excellence (Mary Gossett passed away in September). Pile that wad of cash on top of $10 million Gossett donated in 2007 to build the football team house — a building with Barry Gossett’s name on it. That’s the kind of accounting that counts in college athletics.

How much has the debacle hurt the University of Maryland? Former Terps football coach Randy Edsall, whose four-year tenure from 2012 to 2015 was forgettable, now back at the University of Connecticut, tweeted this quote from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick:

“When you’re the Head Coach, you’re the Head Coach 24/7. No matter what, it’s on your watch, and to a degree, it’s your problem.”

Edsall is right.


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