ESPN and SportsCenter broadcaster Scott Van Pelt has been one of the countless vocal critics of Maryland’s football program and the university as a whole this week, following the school’s decision to reinstate coach DJ Durkin – who had previously been on administrative leave since August – and then again when it fired him the next day.
Durkin was placed on leave before the season started after an ESPN report described the program’s culture as “toxic” both independently and how it related to the June death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair.
An Maryland alumnus, Van Pelt said this week on SportsCenter that when he had previously discussed the school, he chose his words carefully, if he opted to say anything at all. But he explained that changed when Maryland Board of Regents reinstated Durkin, only for the school to fire him following backlash.
After everything that happened this week, Van Pelt didn’t hold back:
“At each step of the way – from the moment Jordan McNair fell ill through the Board of Regents’ clumsy decision – Maryland has demonstrated the remarkably consistent ability to do the wrong thing at each step. The most tone-deaf crisis management imaginable. That’s leadership, or the lack thereof. It’s hard to fathom how it could be bungled more completely.”
He called this week’s events another “embarrassing chapter in a story seemingly without end,” and he questioned why President Wallace D. Loh – who will step down in June – and Athletic Director Damon Evans are still employed by the school. He suggested they, too, need to go so there can “be a complete cultural reset.”
Van Pelt continued:
“This place matters a lot, to a lot of people, and I cannot tell you how many people, spanning generations, have reached out to me, embarrassed and brokenhearted about this entire chapter. There are those who could help on any number of fronts – people like Gary Williams. He wore the uniform, he’s a graduate, he’s a hall of famer and has a passion for his university that is unrivaled. He’d be willing to help; all you’d have to do is ask him.
“But that means someone from Maryland would have to ask him, doesn’t it? And that hasn’t happened, though, because of the complete leadership void that currently exists.”
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