ANNAPOLIS, Md. - “All hell would break loose” – that’s what University of Maryland President Wallace Loh told the school’s board of regents would happen if they brought back now-fired football coach D.J. Durkin.
University of Maryland officials and state lawmakers met in Annapolis on Thursday to discuss the program’s turmoil in the wake of Jordan McNair’s death.
The hearing yielded another bombshell when Loh confirmed that it cost the university $5 million to buy out Durkin’s contract.
The new head of the board of regents said they were wrong to recommend keeping Durkin and it was “proper” for Loh to fire him.
The board of regents said they agreed that they mishandled the situation.
"We've gotten many things right, but this is clearly something we got wrong. But we've got a great group of people who come from different cultures and different backgrounds and they’re all working to make the system better," said Board of Regents Chairwoman Linda Gooden.
The decision to keep Durkin on as coach was not unanimous, but the chairwoman declined to say which members voted to keep Durkin, noting that the vote was taken in executive session.
Speaker of the House Michael Busch took the unusual step of sitting on the House of Appropriations Panel for the hearing. He expressed support for the idea of delaying Loh’s retirement.
Other lawmakers did not follow suit, questioning why Loh didn’t fire Durkin for cause, instead of paying out his contract.
“We need to in this room commit ourselves to making sure that any student, regardless where they come from, if they’re a constituent or not, that we try to make them safe,” said Delegate Maggie McIntosh/D-Chair, House Appropriations Committee.
“I’ve been around sports all my life and ultimately the guy in charge of the program is the one that takes responsibility for the good things and the bad things,” said Speaker Michael Busch/D-House of Delegates.
FOX 5’s Tom Fitzgerald asked Loh as he left the meeting whether he’s reconsidering his decision to retire, and each time he said “no comment.”
The board of regents will meet again in two weeks and promises to have an “action plan” of reforms in place by Jan. 1.