Maryland students to protest Durkin’s return

The University of Maryland’s student government association, amid widespread outrage over the university system board of regents’ reinstatement of football coach DJ Durkin, has organized a rally to protest the decision, saying they “demand justice for Jordan McNair.”

The University System of Maryland board of regents announced its decision Tuesday, with board chair James T. Brady saying that Durkin “has been unfairly blamed for the dysfunction in the athletic department.”

Durkin had been on paid administrative leave since August following the death of the 19-year-old McNair, who suffered from heatstroke at a May 29 workout and died June 13.

The student government, in a post on its Facebook page, says the rally will start at 3:30 p.m. ET on Thursday at McKeldin Library.

“We, the Executive Board of the University of Maryland Student Government Association, are outraged with the decisions made by the Board of Regents regarding the Maryland Football Program,” the association said in the Facebook post. “In order to voice the opinions of the student body, we are organizing a rally, this Thursday, November 1st, 2018 at 3:30pm. We will be gathering in front of McKeldin Library marching down to the steps of the Main Administration building.

“We demand justice for Jordan McNair.”

The student government association’s statement echoes the outage expressed Tuesday by McNair’s parents and many others.

McNair’s father, Marty McNair, said he felt “like I’ve been punched in the stomach, and somebody spit in my face.” Hassan Murphy, an attorney representing McNair’s family, said the board of regents “ratified and validated the heartbreaking actions by Coach Durkin and his staff toward Jordan in May by continuing the employment of the man who failed in his primary responsibility to Jordan. That is callous and it is indefensible.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan questioned whether the university had done enough.

“Many will understandably question whether enough has been done to address the serious concerns that exist among many in the College Park community,” Hogan wrote in a statement. “I am one of them.”

Durkin met with the players with no other coaches present before a regularly scheduled practice Tuesday, and sources told ESPN’s Heather Dinich and Adam Rittenberg that several players, including starters, walked out of the meeting.

“Everybody’s shell-shocked [within the program],” a source said. “Nobody’s saying much. Nobody knows what to do right now.”

Terrapins offensive linemen Ellis McKennie, a junior, and Tyran Hunt, a redshirt freshman, were among multiple players to tweet their support for McNair and displeasure with Durkin’s reinstatement.

University president Wallace D. Loh and athletic director Damon Evans also will keep their jobs, although Loh announced his plans to retire in June 2019.

The long-awaited decision on the futures of Durkin, Loh and Evans comes after two separate investigations into the football program and five meetings and calls between the 17-member board of regents.

Sources with knowledge of the process told ESPN that retaining Durkin was the board’s chief objective and that Loh was forced to keep the coach or risk losing his own job.

“This is really not Dr. Loh’s decision,” a source said.

ESPN’s Heather Dinich and Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.

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