Maryland board of regents chairman resigns amid football scandal

- There is more fallout from the University of Maryland football scandal as the chairman of the board of regents has resigned from his position.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced Thursday that chair James T. Brady is stepping down immediately.

Brady's resignation comes after the board announced Tuesday its recommendation of reinstating University of Maryland football head coach DJ Durkin following two separate investigations on the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and the culture of the football program.

One day after heavy backlash from the campus community along with other elected Maryland officials about Durkin’s reinstatement, University of Maryland President Wallace Loh fired Durkin.

Loh announced Tuesday that he will resign next year.

Brady issued a statement on saying:

"For the past three years, I have had the honor and privilege of helping to lead an incomparable group of highly talented and dedicated public servants, working collectively to support and improve Maryland’s system of higher education. In doing so, I’ve been able to work with brilliant students, scholars and staff at universities across the system. This role has been one of the most satisfying of my life.

"Together, we have made a lot of progress. During my time as board chair, and during my time in previous years as a member:

  • USM institutions have risen in national rankings, both in terms of quality and affordability;
  • USM universities hit record levels of enrollment;
  • We launched several initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion at universities across the system;
  • The board spearheaded efforts to increase civic education and engagement among students;
  • And, the board appointed new presidents at seven institutions: Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Frostburg State University, Salisbury University, Towson University, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

"The board is an extraordinary body that does important work for the people and the state of Maryland. And I am committed to ensuring that the progress made by the university system in recent years continues.

"In recent months, the board has engaged in a deep and thorough process of responding to issues arising out of the tragic death of Jordan McNair. I am very proud of that process.

"From the beginning, we were determined to get all the facts before making the judgments and decisions we believed were in the best interest of the University of Maryland, College Park and its student-athletes. We hoped the lessons we would learn would positively affect student-athletes at universities across the system, the state and the nation.

"I am also proud of the seriousness with which every member of the board took this responsibility. I want to thank them again for their service and their commitment to Maryland.

"And I respect the many people – including elected leaders, members of the public and members of the board – who disagreed with the recommendations a majority of this board ultimately made. These were difficult decisions, based on information included in reports stemming from two investigations and a great deal of thought and deliberation.

"I understand that reasonable people could come to other conclusions. And even among our board, some did.

"Going forward, however, I believe the board needs to be able to return to the important business of supporting and advancing Maryland’s public university system, for the benefit of its students and families, and of people across the state.

"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."

"Governor Hogan thanks Mr. Brady for his service on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, as well as his many years of distinguished public service under three governors of both parties," said Amelia Chasse, spokesperson for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, in a statement. "The governor believes that the university system must move forward in an open and transparent manner to restore public trust in Maryland’s flagship university."

The board of regents also released a statement after Brady's resignation:

"Several months ago, the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents assumed oversight of an independent commission investigating the culture of football at the University of Maryland, College Park. The board received the commission’s report on October 19 and, in subsequent days, met five times for a total of more than 20 hours to discuss its findings.

"The discussions that followed focused entirely on the findings of the commission report, as well as the separate report compiled by Dr. Rod Walters. The board’s goal was to make recommendations focused solely on the best interest of the student-athletes and the university. Every board member had multiple opportunities to express their views, and no decision was arrived at unanimously by all 17 board members, which demonstrates the complexity of the issues examined by the board.

"Earlier this week, Board Chair James T. Brady announced the board’s conclusions and recommendations to the university, including the recommendations to retain D.J. Durkin and Damon Evans. As the governing body and fiduciary for the institution, the board has both the right and the responsibility to examine the university’s operations and make recommendations to its president. Ultimately, it is the university president’s responsibility to operate the campus and to make any and all personnel decisions.

"Last night, President Loh informed the chancellor of his plan to terminate Mr. Durkin’s contract.  The board acknowledges and accepts his decision and his authority to make it.

"The board has also heard from many, including Governor Hogan, members of the legislature, who strongly disagreed with the recommendations that were shared Tuesday. The board deeply respects the views of Maryland’s elected leaders and will participate in any process they request.

"Going forward, the USM Board of Regents will work with the university to ensure that the commission’s recommendations related to reforming policies and procedures – including the adoption of a medical model – are adopted, which will improve the wellbeing of student-athletes at the University of Maryland, College Park and across all system campuses, which was the primary goal.

"In the coming days and weeks, details about the process of implementing those reforms will be shared, including details regarding the appointment of an outside monitoring group."

Before the announcement of Brady's resignation, hundreds of University of Maryland students gathered outside of McKeldin Library on campus before walking over to the Administration Building for a Justice for Jordan rally on Thursday afternoon.

“Everyone was extremely disappointed and appalled really by the recommendations of the board of regents,” said Maryland student body president Jonathan Allen. “Chairman Brady as the leader of the board of regents should have been held accountable and now is being held accountable.”

Durkin was placed on administrative leave in August after McNair collapsed during practice and subsequently died of heat stroke along with allegations of bullying by the coaching staff.

The University System of Maryland's Board of Regents released a detailed report on Monday on the culture of the university's athletics department following the death of McNair.

Brady said in a news conference Tuesday that Durkin was unfairly blamed for the dysfunction in the athletic department. He called McNair's death tragic and heartbreaking, but said there was not a toxic culture within the football program as some have alleged.

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