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Md. congressional leaders concerned with how University handled McNair case

University of Maryland student Ro Nambiar holds a sign as people gather at a "Justice for Jordan" rally in remembrance of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, on the university's campus in College Park, Md. Maryland President Wallace Loh fired football head coach DJ Durkin Wednesday, about five months after McNair collapsed on a practice field and later died of heatstroke. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON — Maryland’s two U.S. senators and several House representatives sat down with top leaders from the University System of Maryland on Wednesday to express their concerns following one of the most tumultuous and tragic years in the history of the system’s football program.

The meeting on Capitol Hill included the system’s Chancellor Robert Caret and Board of Regents Chairwoman Linda Gooden.

“We all took the opportunity to express concern and disappointment with the way the board bungled this entire episode,” said Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

University of Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair suffered heatstroke during a May workout, and died in June. In the wake of his death came allegations of bullying and intimidation under the leadership of then-head coach DJ Durkin.

Durkin spent more than two months on administrative leave while independent investigations were conducted into McNair’s death and the culture surrounding the team.

The board of regents decided to reinstate Durkin on Oct. 30, a decision that prompted widespread outrage, and protests by players.

University President Wallace Loh fired Durkin the next day, and Board of Regents Chairman James Brady later resigned.

Earlier this week, Maryland hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as its new football coach.

“They’ve really given the university system a black eye and it’s really important that they understand they’ve got a lot of work to do,” Van Hollen said, adding that the board needs to take steps to ensure the safety of student athletes and to restore public confidence in its “governance and decision making.”

“They said all the right things, but the proof will be in what happens going forward,” Van Hollen said.

The meeting included Sen. Ben Cardin, as well as Reps. Elijah Cummings, Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and Anthony Brown.

Several Maryland leaders expressed hope that Loh would stay in his current job, despite Loh’s announcement that he would retire in June.

“If he decides to stay, I would certainly support that decision,” Van Hollen said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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