COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — The chairman of University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents has resigned from his position.
James T. Brady is stepping down from his position following the board’s controversial decision to recommend that UMD football coach DJ Durkin be reinstated following the death of Jordan McNair.
It’s the latest shake-up in an ongoing saga that began with the tragic death of 19-year-old McNair in June days after he suffered a heatstroke at practice.
His death fueled an investigation into the culture of the program
Brady released the following statement:
For the past three years, I have had the honor and privilege of helping to lead an incomparable group of highly talented and dedicated public servants, working collectively to support and improve Maryland’s system of higher education. In doing so, I’ve been able to work with brilliant students, scholars and staff at universities across the system. This role has been one of the most satisfying of my life.
Together, we have made a lot of progress. During my time as board chair, and during my time in previous years as a member:
- USM institutions have risen in national rankings, both in terms of quality and affordability;
- USM universities hit record levels of enrollment;
- We launched several initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion at universities across the system;
- The board spearheaded efforts to increase civic education and engagement among students;
- And, the board appointed new presidents at seven institutions: Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Frostburg State University, Salisbury University, Towson University, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
The board is an extraordinary body that does important work for the people and the state of Maryland. And I am committed to ensuring that the progress made by the university system in recent years continues.
In recent months, the board has engaged in a deep and thorough process of responding to issues arising out of the tragic death of Jordan McNair. I am very proud of that process.
From the beginning, we were determined to get all the facts before making the judgments and decisions we believed were in the best interest of the University of Maryland, College Park and its student-athletes. We hoped the lessons we would learn would positively affect student-athletes at universities across the system, the state and the nation.
I am also proud of the seriousness with which every member of the board took this responsibility. I want to thank them again for their service and their commitment to Maryland.
And I respect the many people – including elected leaders, members of the public and members of the board – who disagreed with the recommendations a majority of this board ultimately made. These were difficult decisions, based on information included in reports stemming from two investigations and a great deal of thought and deliberation.
I understand that reasonable people could come to other conclusions. And even among our board, some did.
Going forward, however, I believe the board needs to be able to return to the important business of supporting and advancing Maryland’s public university system, for the benefit of its students and families, and of people across the state.
In recent days, I have become the public face of both the board and its decisions related to these matters. In my estimation, my continued presence on the board will inhibit its ability to move Maryland’s higher education agenda forward. And I have no interest in serving as a distraction from that important work.
Accordingly, I will step down from the Board of Regents immediately.
I do so with thanks again to my many colleagues and friends on the board, at the University System of Maryland, and at every institution in that system. I’ll always be proud of the work we have done together and look forward to observing the many things you will accomplish for the people of this state in the years to come.
The University System of Maryland Board of Regents issued a statement saying that going forward, they will work with the university to ensure that the commission’s recommendations related to reforming policies and procedures, including the adoption of a medical model, are adopted.
“The board’s goal was to make recommendations focused solely on the best interest of the student-athletes and the university. Every board member had multiple opportunities to express their views, and no decision was arrived at unanimously by all 17 board members, which demonstrates the complexity of the issues examined by the board.” -The board said in part in their statement.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan released the following statement following Brady’s resignation:
“Governor Hogan thanks Mr. Brady for his service on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, as well as his many years of distinguished public service under three governors of both parties. The governor believes that the university system must move forward in an open and transparent manner to restore public trust in Maryland’s flagship university.”
Student body leaders criticized Brady for how he handled an investigation into the football program’s culture after McNair’s death.
“He failed the citizens of the state and more importantly he failed the student body and the campus community,” said Jonathan Allen, UMD student body president.
Brady went on the record and said former coach Durkin was “unfairly blamed” for McNair’s death.
The comment drew swift rebuke from students who rallied on campus Thursday.
“It’s great to see everyone come together and really take action for what they believe in,” said student Bridget Donahue.
In the midst of a PR crisis, the Baltimore Sun reports the state’s premier University’s accreditation is now under review, a step which was triggered earlier this year.
A letter from the Vice President and provost criticized the investigative process saying, “It has already damaged the trust of students and their families, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and supporters,”
There was also possible division within the football team. University police are reviewing video of a fight that broke out on the practice field Tuesday.
For a team that’s fighting through adversity, the student body is pledging to stand by them.
“Hopefully we can rally around the football team, around the McNair family, and come together as a school,” said student Jason Lynch.
The University Senate will convene an emergency meeting tomorrow, though two people, the coach and board chairman, are already gone.