Maryland is late doing the right thing with DJ Durkin, so it’s still wrong
At first glance, it seems as if Maryland getting out of the DJ Durkin business will appease the angry masses. It will appease some. It’s doubtful it will appease them in full.
In the strictest, technical sense, Durkin’s exit Wednesday night reverses the catastrophic mistake the Maryland Board of Regents made the day before. In reality, it does not undo the mistake. That’s how bad and how big it was. It can’t be washed away in 24 hours just because Durkin was. The slap in the face to the campus, students, alumni, players, potential recruits, the sport and, most of all, Jordan McNair’s family, will sting for a long time.
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Years, probably — until everybody involved in giving Durkin that unconscionable free pass is out. That might fix it and might encourage anyone who might want to re-up their support for Maryland to do it: Burn all of it to the ground and sow the soil with salt. Never permit the possibility of a decision like that — the last and arguably most offensive of all the school’s lousy decisions — to be made again, by anyone with the power to make it.
In the early hours since the Wednesday night 180-degree spin of desperate pandering, who knows who will still be standing when the flame is out and the hoses turned off?
As of Wednesday night, president Wallace Loh still was, and that’s fascinating for as long as he stays in his position because, according to The Washington Post, he overrode the board’s decision after being handed an ultimatum on Durkin by its members earlier. In that context, shoving Durkin out had an “I dare you” feel to it. Maybe that pushes the board’s buttons. It flexed its muscle for all the worst reasons already; now the when, how and why it flexes it next is worth watching.
On the other hand, do the board members themselves survive? Chairman James Brady reveled in being in the spotlight a bit too much the last two times he held it. He has close ties to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, appointed to the board like the overwhelming majority of the rest. In a Wednesday followup to his original, milder statement, Hogan unloaded on the group, blasting its “lack of transparency” and asking for public hearings.
The midterm elections are six days away, and national and statewide politicians were burying the board. Credit them all for hearing their constituents. That’s more than can be said about the board, which presumably serves the same audience as the politicians. Yet all it seemed to have heard was Durkin’s fan club, which apparently included plenty of the school’s and program’s boosters.
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Not the students, or alumni, or players … or, let’s never stop repeating, the McNair family. The word “betrayal” cannot be used in this situation enough.
Going, “You know, on second thought …” on a decision it took too long to make — and was made shamefully poorly and carelessly — erases none of that. “More must be done to restore the public trust,” Hogan said in his statement, and whether he thought that up on his own or had a finger to the wind, it’s spot-on.
And before we forget … Damon Evans, Teflon athletic director, was still on the job, too.
Dumping Durkin a day after hoisting him up in victory only because the flames of public opinion finally penetrated the board’s thick insulation assured that it will be generations before a whole lot of people ever trust the University of Maryland again.
That includes people who went through this once before, three decades ago, and thought they were done with such nonsense.
The masses, young, old and in-between, are hardly appeased. Durkin is gone, but the door’s still open and the “exit” sign is still lit.
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