Former University of Maryland Head Football coach DJ Durkin was placed on paid administrative leave August 11, 2018. This was in response to the June 13th death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair from a heat stroke he suffered at a May 29 workout.
Durkin had been reinstated Tuesday, following two separate investigations into the football program and five meetings and calls between the 17-member board of regents. Then, just one day later, after a public outcry, largely from the student body, Durkin was fired by President Wallace Loh. The decision to reinstate Durkin had been met with outrage and protests by students, politicians, McNair’s family members and even some of the players themselves.
“We feel gratified that some justice has been done, that Dr. Loh took it upon himself to do the right thing,” Marty McNair, Jordan’s father, told SportsCenter on Wednesday night.
One student tweeted this assessment of the situation: “I don’t think Maryland could have possibly handled this entire situation any worse. He should have been fired in July or August.” Amen. How does a student die becasue of an incident suffered on the practice field, and then you investigate the situation to death, and then you reinstate the head coach, and then you fire him? Seriously?
Without question, it was a tragic death that Jordan McNair died. But the University of Maryland made his demise a hundred times worse and more painful by dragging the verdict out and then flip-flopping the punishment for Coach Durkin all over the place. First of all, the investigation took too long. Period. Then, the aftermath was like, coach DJ Durkin is a good man, so let’s give him another chance. No. Not at Maryland. Not at the expense of feelings and emotions and passions and sentiments, and raw anger.
The morale (pun intended) of this story is this: we need to right wrongs as quickly as we can. And Maryland taught us that dragging out an apology and the necessary restitution is actually a second fatality that only exacerbates the original mortal wound. In other words, Maryland killed Jordan McNair more than once.
So let’s all remember, when we make a mistake, let’s not make this same mistake.