WASHINGTON — For more than two months, a special committee that includes former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich and former Rep. Tom McMillen — both also former college athletes — has been working to determine whether what happens behind closed doors inside the University of Maryland’s football program is something toxic, as some media reports have alleged, or if it’s just typical college football.
The committee was formed after ESPN published an article asserting there was a “toxic” culture inside the program, and that the toxicity was reflected in the missteps that led to the death of Jordan McNair earlier this year. After the committee began working, The Washington Post and The Athletic also published articles detailing allegations of an abusive culture inside the program.
The committee’s report on the matter will go to the University System Board of Regents Friday, which is meeting in Hagerstown, Maryland. It’ll be the first time the tight-lipped committee will provide any answers on its investigation.
Once the regents are presented with the report, they’ll have the weekend to digest its contents before meeting again in Baltimore on Tuesday. At that closed door meeting, regents will have their first chance to discuss the findings as a board and discuss what should happen next.
Even then, the board isn’t expected to publicly discuss the report or its findings until sometime later next week, once it’s clear where members stand and there’s a sense of the direction things will begin to take.
While the report will focus on the culture created by University of Maryland football coach DJ Durkin, who since August has spent what would have been his third season in charge on paid leave, the futures of athletic director Damon Evans and even school President Wallace Loh also hang in the balance.
Evans was promoted to athletic director after the death of football player Jordan McNair, but his arrival in College Park predated Durkin’s, and he had direct administrative oversight of the football program even before Durkin was hired.
If the report finds the culture of the football program was indeed toxic, then it would reflect back on Evans — as well as Loh’s decision to promote him.
Ultimately, the Board of Regents doesn’t have the ability to hire or fire coaches or other members of athletic departments at schools in the university system. But it does have direct say on the employment of school presidents, including Loh, and could thus still influence the process in College Park going forward.