Maryland board of regents faces financial and political backlash from multiple organizations
A tumultuous season has whirled around the Maryland football program throughout the past few months, following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair. The 19-year-old died June 13 after suffering from heatstroke during an offseason workout about two weeks prior.
Since McNair’s death, the university has faced scrutiny from multiple angles. Rallies were assembled. Boycotts were urged.
The University System of Maryland Board of Regents recommended at an October press conference that head coach DJ Durkin be reinstated, which sparked outrage among students, fans and politicians. President Wallace Loh — who during the presser announced his retirement at the end of the current academic year — dismissed Durkin one day later, amid last month’s “Justice for Jordan” rally.
However, the storm persisted.
The University of Maryland, College Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization that’s in charge of the college’s fundraising efforts, criticized the board of regents and issued a candid letter to its members, blaming them for the lagging contributions after their recent controversial decisions.
The letter, which was signed by provost Mary Ann Rankin and the 15 campus deans, followed the foundation’s financial decline from several substantial donors.
It read: “The violation of the independence of the university to manage its human resources and operations compromises the governance structure of the university [and] impacts our credibility and our ability to deliver the educational services for which we exist as a public land-grant institution. It has already damaged the trust of students and their families, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and supporters.”
The University of Maryland Foundation might be in jeopardy of not attaining their $1.5 billion goal for the school because of a damaging pattern of undermining the university’s leadership, according to its members.
Despite Loh’s retirement announcement, the Maryland congressional delegation expressed their support for him to remain the university's president during their Wednesday meeting with Linda Gooden, the newly appointed chairwoman of the board of regents, and Robert Caret, the board’s chancellor.
“Let me be very clear – I make no bones about it. I want to see Dr. Loh stay. I think he has done an outstanding job, and I’m hopeful that he will,” Rep. Elijah Cummings said, via Fox 5 DC. “But at the same time, I am extremely confident that we are moving in the right direction.”
The delegation said it will be keeping an eye on the board to ensure that every athlete, and student, stays safe and healthy under their administration.
“The death of any young person is a tragedy. The death of a young person that could have been avoided is an even greater tragedy,” Rep. Steny Hoyer said, via The Baltimore Sun. “Hopefully, this tragic incident will never be repeated.”