U of Maryland President Wallace Loh to stay on through June 2020
UPDATE, Jan. 30, 2019: University of Maryland President Wallace Loh will stay at the helm of the university for another year, through June 2020, he announced via Twitter on Wednesday. Loh previously said he would retire in June after he and other university leaders were found partly responsible for turmoil in the athletic department following the death of student football player.
The Board discussed with me having a smooth transition of leadership, and we mutually agreed upon a retirement date of June 2020. With all of Maryland’s supporters, I look forward to what we will accomplish together. (2/2)— Wallace D. Loh (@presidentloh) January 30, 2019
Linda Gooden, the chair of the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents, said Loh was asked to stay on to ensure a smooth transition while a search for a new president commences.
"The most important responsibility of the board is the successful hiring of a president and the most important responsibility of a sitting president is to ensure that the transition of leadership occurs very smoothly," Loh told The Baltimore Sun. "It is my job to make sure that happens."
Following Loh's retirement announcement, several state lawmakers asked him to stay and the university's provost and deans penned a letter expressing their support for him. However, student support for Loh has been mixed, with some campus student groups calling for new leadership.
UPDATE, Oct. 31, 2018: The University of Maryland announced it is parting ways with its head football coach DJ Durkin and that its president, Wallace Loh, will retire. The move comes after student groups and lawmakers raised serious concerns about the Board of Regents' decision to allow Durkin to return to his position following an investigation that found he was partly responsible for systemic issues in the university's athletic department.
- A 198-page report obtained by The Washington Post found the University of Maryland's leadership partly responsible for ongoing dysfunction in its athletic department. The probe into the department was prompted by the death of a 19-year-old student-athlete in June 2018 after he suffered from exertion-related heatstroke during football practice.
- University President Wallace Loh called for the investigation a day after ESPN reported that offensive lineman Jordan McNair collapsed during practice after displaying symptoms of extreme heat exhaustion. ESPN reported the coaching environment was "based on fear and intimidation" and included "extreme verbal abuse of players."
- The report found the athletic department "lacked a culture of accountability, did not provide adequate oversight of the football program" and that the university's former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court "engaged in abusive conduct during his tenure at Maryland."
The commission was created to probe the football program and its potential role in McNair's death. Over the course of its investigation, the commission interviewed more than 150 people including former football players, parents of players, athletic department staff and university officials who described a culture where student-athletes were afraid to speak up and problems festered.
The Board of Regents discussed the investigation's findings for nearly seven hours in an October meeting, reported The Diamondback, the university's independent student newspaper. Loh was not present at the meeting.
UMD wrote in a statement at the time that it is "committed to a fair and accountable process" and is "carefully reviewing" the report. It also said it "accepted legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes made in [McNair's] care."
Shortly after the troubling reports surfaced about the football program this summer, the university placed Durkin, Court and two other staffers on administrative leave, according to The Diamondback. Court, who has been at the center of the abuse allegations, resigned after negotiating a settlement. The report stated Court's abuses included "challenging a player's manhood" and "hurling homophobic slurs," which Court denied, as well as throwing weights, food and, in one instance, a vomit-filled trash can, at student-athletes.
A previous independent investigation found more than an hour passed between McNair's first symptoms of heat stroke and when school officials called 911, The Post reported in September. The report also outlined mistakes in UMD's handling of the situation. The university vowed to implement all 27 of the 74-page report's medical care recommendations, though it didn't make any immediate personnel decisions following the findings.
Loh is not the only university president whose tenure has been embroiled in scandal of late.
The University of Southern California's president resigned in August amid allegations of sexual abuse by one of the institution's former gynecologists. USC agreed to a $215 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit. Last January, Michigan State University's president resigned after facing criticism for her handling of allegations against the university's former sports doctor Larry Nassar for sexually abusing patients. And the University of Missouri System's president stepped down in 2015 after facing mounting pressure by student activists who complained he had not done enough to address incidents of racism on campus.
- The Washington Post Report on Maryland football culture cites problems but stops short of ‘toxic’ label
- The Washington Post DJ Durkin and Damon Evans will retain jobs at Maryland, source says
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