Feinstein: Maryland needs to 'clean house'

Ben Krimmel
November 02, 2018 - 11:38 am

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Maryland needs to further clean house and remove everyone involved with the handling of the football program, Washington Post columnist John Feinstein told The Sports Junkies Friday.

"What Larry Hogan ought to do after he is re-elected next Tuesday, which he will be," Feinstein said of the Governor of Maryland, who currently holds a lead in the polls. "Is he ought to get rid of the entire Board of Regents, let (University of Maryland president Wallace) Loh retire -- and (athletic director) Damon Evans shouldn't be working either -- and start all over again."

"Just say to your people, 'Look, we had a tragedy, we have to go back to square one,'" Feinstein said. 

The tragedy Feinstein is referring to is the June 13 death of 19-year-old football player Jordan McNair, who collapsed of heatstroke during an offseason practice.

"Jordan McNair was allowed to die, by the coaches, by the trainers" Feinstein said. "And that's why Wallace Loh stood up on August (14) and said, 'The University of Maryland is legally and morally responsible for the death of Jordan McNair.' That was the day he should have fired D.J. Durkin."

READ: Timeline of Maryland football program's demise

Eric Bickel took issue with one point.

"The only thing I would quibble with is that I think it's a little strong when you say the coaches... and the trainers allowed him to die, like that was sort of their wish on any level. I mean come on?" Bickel said. 

"No, no Eric, I'm not saying anybody wished him dead," Feinstein said. "I'm saying they didn't do what they had to do to save his life, which was basic stuff get him in ice."

"Of course, and that's the trainers. That's the trainers," Bickel responded.

"No, no, no, no. You weren't there and I wasn't there," Feinstein answered. "But the coaches were there. And the coaches have a responsibility, coaches know about heat stroke, too."

"Let me tell you something, the coaches knew there was a trainer issue and that's gonna come out. They knew it. They knew it," Bickel said.

According to Feinstein, McNair's death "did not happen in a vacuum." It began with budget problems at Maryland, the school joining the Big Ten Conference, and the hiring of Durkin as head coach. 

"D.J. Durkin, his first hire was who? Rick Court. And he sanctioned everything Rick Court did that both ESPN and The Washington Post reported," Feinstein said. "So this didn't just happen in a vacuum one day where the coaches went, 'Oh my god, the trainers didn't do their job.' There was a lot that lead up to this. That's why they need to go back to square one." 

Feinstein also said that Maryland could have saved themselves and their alumni a great deal of embarrassment and humiliation had they handled the situation differently from the start.

"They dragged it out, then they got it wrong, initially," Feinstein said. "It became a political battle between (former chair of the Board of Regents James T.) Brady and Loh, because Brady never forgave Loh for allowing the stadium, or pushing for the stadium to be re-named, taking Curley Byrd's name off it." 

"They lost sight of the fact that somebody died. And that's what their priority should have been. How do we best deal with the death of this young man?" Feinstein said.

On Thursday, Brady announced his resignation from the Board of Regents after intense public outcry.  

"No one from Maryland has sat down, who was involved in this, and taken questions from the media. They're just putting out statements," Feinstein said. "They need to sit down and answer questions and explain how this happened."  

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