5 appointed to new commission investigating culture of University of Maryland football program
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The former governor of Maryland, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Washington Redskins and a former U.S. congressman are among the five people appointed to a commission that will investigate the culture of the University of Maryland football program following the death of player Jordan McNair and a report of bullying by the football staff.
The Board of Regents announced that Dr. Frederick Azar, Bonnie Bernstein, Robert Ehrlich, Tom McMillen and Doug Williams are being brought in "to enhance the commission, bringing broader perspective and additional expertise to the investigation."
The five new members join retired U.S. District Court judges Ben Legg and Alex Williams, and former federal prosecutor Charlie Scheeler on the commission, which was created last week.
Last week, the Board of Regents met in a closed-door special meeting and unanimously voted to assume control over the investigations into McNair's death and into the culture of Maryland's football program.
McNair, a Maryland offensive lineman, died after collapsing during a workout on May 29. The university publicly announced that they accepted responsibility for mistakes the staff made that contributed to McNair's death.
Head football coach DJ Durkin was placed on administrative leave following an ESPN report claiming coaches were bullying players. McNair's father has called for Durkin's firing.
Azar is the chief of staff at Campbell Clinic Orthopaedics and a professor and director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship program at the University of Tennessee‐Campbell Clinic Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering.
Bernstein is a sports journalist who covered college football and the NFL for ESPN, ABC and CBS. She also attended the University of Maryland where she was an academic All-American gymnast. She graduated from the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism with a degree in broadcast journalism.
Ehrlich served as Maryland's governor from 2003 to 2007. While attending Princeton University, he was a former captain on the football team.
Former U.S. Rep. McMillen represented Maryland's 4th congressional district in the House of Representatives from 1987 to 1993. He is a former All-American basketball player at the University of Maryland and played in the NBA for 11 years. McMillen is also a former member of the Board of Regents.
Williams, the first African-American NFL quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl, is the Redskins' senior vice president of player personnel. He is also the former head football coach at Morehouse College and Grambling State University.
"The allegations that have surfaced about the University of Maryland, College Park's football program are extremely serious and, if true, completely unacceptable," said University System of Maryland Board of Regents Chair James Brady. "The commission will be expected to do everything necessary to uncover the facts and share them with the Board of Regents, the university, and ultimately with the people of Maryland.
"We were pleased that five outstanding individuals with deep expertise in areas ranging from sports medicine to college athletics were willing to help more effectively achieve that goal by broadening the diversity of experience and perspectives on the commission," Brady continued. "We will give the commission members the time and independence necessary to do the job right. They have been directed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead. In the meantime, we will continue to withhold all judgments and refrain from any speculation.
"Once the commission has completed its work, the Board of Regents will make the decisions necessary to safeguard and support our students, both at College Park and at campuses across the state," Brady said. "Ultimately, we hope the commission's findings, which will be made public for everyone to review, can also help guide other universities and systems across the country."