Boomer Esiason, one of the best-known products of the Maryland football program, castigated the school’s leadership Monday morning, calling for both Athletic Director Damon Evans and university President Wallace D. Loh to exit in the wake of the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.
Esiason, who was inducted into the University of Maryland’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003, made his remarks in nationally broadcast segments for CBS Sports Radio, twice using the phrase a “shameful lack of leadership” while discussing the tragedy.
“As a Maryland alumnus, the heartbreak that I share over the McNair’s family unspeakable tragedy has only been compounded by my disgust with the shameful lack of leadership displayed by university President Wallace Loh and Athletic Director Damon Evans,” Esiason said. “Last week, they finally accepted moral and legal responsibility for McNair’s death. So why did it take two and a half months for them to do the right thing? Sadly, the frustrated McNair family would probably still be waiting for the answers, and the compensation, they rightly deserve, had they not hired a lawyer who lit a fire by leaking information to ESPN. Loh and Evans are reportedly on shaky ground. This would be a good time for both of them to exit.”
In another segment, Esiason reiterated his criticism for the school’s “inexcusable two and a half months of inaction” before discussing The Post’s report that Loh nixed an athletic department proposal that would have changed how health care was delivered to Maryland athletes. The proposal called for the school to establish an independent medical care model better aligned with NCAA recommendations.
“Now, it’s impossible to determine whether such a change might have enabled the trainers to properly handle McNair’s fatal heat stroke,” Esiason said. “However, treating athletes’ health and safety as an academic political football reflects poorly on Loh and the university.”
Esiason might be the most prominent Maryland figure to put his name to a sentiment that others have circulated. One high-level Maryland donor predicted that “major boosters [will] withhold support until Loh and Evans are out of the picture” and called it “impossible” for Coach DJ Durkin to return to his job.
“I think both Maryland and any other prospective school that considers DJ going forward has to, prior to making that decision, needs to put themselves in the shoes of the McNair family . . . and contemplate what that family has gone through before they make a decision,” the donor told The Post. “If you do that, there’s no way Maryland brings him back, and other schools need to answer that question for themselves.”
Loh and Evans acknowledged in a public event last Tuesday that team athletic trainers failed to properly diagnose and treat McNair during a workout last spring, apologizing to the family for the school’s role in his death. On Friday, the school’s Board of Regents asserted control over the widening investigations into McNair’s death and the football program’s culture.
Esiason, who played at Maryland in the early 1980s, remains one of the most decorated quarterbacks in the school’s history, ranking in the top five in career passing yards, completions, touchdowns and total offense. A three-year starter, he was an honorable mention all-American twice before playing 14 years in the NFL.