COLLEGE PARK, Md. - One day after the board of regent's decision to reinstate University of Maryland head football coach DJ Durkin, there has been an overwhelmingly negative reaction on campus.
The president of the Student Government Association says he has never seen anything like it and emergency legislation calling for Durkin’s firing is now in the works.
The University of Maryland Student Government Association’s executive committee has already voted 5 to 0 to push the legislation forward and the full student government held a meeting Wednesday evening.
Student body president Jonathan Allen says students are stunned by the decision to keep the head coach and says there must be justice for Jordan McNair, a Maryland football player who died from heatstroke on June 13 after he collapsed during an organized team workout two weeks earlier on May 29.
"It didn't make sense,” said Allen. “It wasn't logical the decisions that were made and I have gone through each one and cannot understand how they came to those conclusions. So ultimately we decided and voted unanimously [Tuesday] night, SGA's executive board, that we would seek to get justice for Jordan and all of the actions that we were proposing over the next few days. The first of which is calling for President [Wallace] Loh to fire coach Durkin.”
Allen says what he really wants to know is if reports citing anonymous sources about Loh being forced into accepting the recommendations of the board of regents are true. Allen tweeted Wednesday afternoon, "I just met with President Loh and reiterated that Coach Durkin must be fired. My statement to come... #JusticeForJordan."
In his remarks during Tuesday's news conference, Loh praised athletic director Damon Evans, but said nothing about Durkin.
The board of regents does not have the power to fire Durkin, but Loh does.
However, in a reversal Wednesday evening, the university announced that Durkin was fired.
Strength and conditioning coach Rick Court resigned from the university with a buyout in August. As of Tuesday night, two other members of the athletic training staff were still on administrative leave.
Marty McNair, Jordan’s father, has previously called for Durkin's firing and said Tuesday that he should not be allowed to work with anyone else's child.
"I feel like I've been punched in the stomach and someone spit in my face,” he said.
Board of regents chairman James Brady said that Durkin has been unfairly blamed for the dysfunction in the athletic department.
Maryland students are planning to hold a Justice for Jordan Rally at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at McKeldin Library on campus. A Facebook event page shows more than 1,000 people plan to attend.
"If he is the second highest paid Maryland state employee, he should have a pulse of what is happening under his program and he clearly did not have one,” said Allen. “I don't know how the board has confidence that he can be the head coach going forward.”
Brady called the death of Jordan McNair tragic and heartbreaking, but said there was not a toxic culture within the football program as some have alleged.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement about the decisions made by the board of regents that were announced on Tuesday:
“I am deeply troubled by the lack of transparency from the Board of Regents, and deeply concerned about how they could have possibly arrived at the decisions announced yesterday.
“I share the concerns of many Marylanders and believe very strongly that more must be done to restore the public trust. I am calling on both the University System 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.
“While the university system is required by law to operate independent of political influence, and as such no governor has the ability to hire or fire any university personnel or members of the Board of Regents, I can and will demand that the university is held accountable for making the reforms they have pledged to put in place with the full transparency that the students, parents, and faculty expect and deserve.
“The University System of Maryland has let down the University of Maryland community and the citizens of Maryland, and now is the time to fix it.”