BALTIMORE - The Board of Regents held a special meeting Friday to discuss the University of Maryland’s actions following the death of 19-year-old football player Jordan McNair, who collapsed during a team workout in May.
The board met for four hours in a closed-session regarding the ongoing investigations of McNair's death and the football program.
"The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents today unanimously voted to assume authority and control over all aspects of the investigation into the tragic death of University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) student-athlete Jordan McNair," the board said in a statement released Friday evening. "Separately, the board will assume control over the commission formed to investigate the culture of the UMCP football program. Today’s actions will allow the USM to provide guidance from the findings of the investigations to all system institutions."
“Everyone throughout the University System of Maryland was deeply saddened by the death of Jordan McNair,” said Board of Regents Chair James Brady. “Our thoughts continue to be with his family and friends, and with everyone at UMCP, at this very difficult time."
“Earlier today, the Board of Regents was fully briefed by UMCP President Wallace Loh about the circumstances of Mr. McNair’s tragic death, about the actions that have been taken since, and finally about the alarming allegations that have emerged in the last week related to the football program,” Brady continued. “After a long and robust discussion, the board voted unanimously to assume responsibility for the investigations into these two separate issues. Our goal is to ensure that all system universities, including UMCP, are actively working to protect the health and safety of every student and to foster a supportive culture in which everyone can flourish.”
The meeting comes after Maryland accepted responsibility for mistakes that contributed to McNair's death earlier this week. University President Wallace Loh is also under fire after a report revealed that he rejected a proposal to overhaul how health care would be delivered to athletes.
The Board of Regents has the authority to hire and fire the university’s president along with amending and approving policies that govern the school.
Special meetings such as the one held on Friday are not uncommon. By law, the board can close the meeting to the public to get legal advice and discuss personnel matters.
“We welcome the oversight of the Board of Regents at this critical time," said University of Maryland President Wallace Loh. "We must thoroughly investigate the death of student-athlete Jordan McNair and understand the allegations of the culture of our football program so that we can ensure the health and well-being of every one of our student-athletes. We will continue to honor Jordan’s life, and we will work with our Board of Regents to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.”
Student Body President Jonathan Allen said Friday that he did not get any answers from the university about what was discussed and he wants more transparency. He also wants the board to re-examine all of Maryland’s athletic programs.
“I’m urging the regents and the university administration to not only investigate our football program, but to review the procedures, policies and cultures within our other athletic programs as well,” he said. “We should be proactive in ensuring that this, an incident as tragic as this, never occurs again.”
Allen hopes the board members will look into new revelations, first reported by the Washington Post, about President Loh’s decision to nix a plan that would have better aligned athletes’ health care with NCAA standards. He said it is too early say if Loh’s decision played a role in McNair’s death.
However, when it comes to head football coach DJ Durkin, who has been placed on administrative leave following an ESPN report claiming coaches were bullying players, Allen said students want him fired. McNair's father has also called for the firing of Durkin.
“There is a degree of responsibility you have to take if you are in a position of leadership such as Coach Durkin and you are directly supervising a program like our football program,” said Allen. “So that is something I will be watching closely as the investigations progress.”