The panel charged with investigating the Maryland football program will include several prominent names, including a former U.S. congressman, a Super Bowl MVP and a prominent sports broadcaster.
The board of regents for the University System of Maryland announced Friday the five additional appointments who will be charged with examining the football program and allegations that coaches fostered an abusive culture. The group is heavy on star power with connections to football, to the university and to the political arena. They include:
- Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich, who played football at Princeton;
- Doug Williams, the former Redskins quarterback who serves as the senior vice president of player personnel for the team;
- Tom McMillen, the former Maryland basketball star who served three terms in Congress and formerly served on the system’s board of regents;
- Bonnie Bernstein, an alumnus of the school who has worked in sports broadcasting for nearly 20 years with ESPN, ABC and CBS;
- Frederick M. Azar, the chief of staff at Campbell Clinic Orthopaedics in Memphis, who also serves as a professor and director of the sports medicine fellowship program in the University of Tennessee Campbell’s clinic department of orthopedic surgery and biomedical engineering.
The five will join three others who were previously tasked by Maryland President Wallace D. Loh to examine the program in the wake of offensive lineman Jordan McNair’s death, which resulted from a team workout, and ensuing news reports that prompted the school to place four employees on administrative leave, including the team’s head coach, DJ Durkin. One of those employees, Rick Court, the strength and conditioning coach, reached a settlement and resigned from the school.
The regents met Aug. 17 to discuss the news reports surrounding the Maryland program and voted to take control of the investigation that Loh had previously announced. The board also is overseeing a separate probe that is focused on the May 29 workout that resulted in McNair’s death.
The board offered no timeline for the investigation into the football program, but in a news release, Board of Regents Chair James T. Brady said the eight-person commission will have “the time and independence necessary to do the job right.”
“The allegations that have surfaced about the University of Maryland, College Park’s football program are extremely serious and, if true, completely unacceptable,” Brady said. “The commission will be expected to do everything necessary to uncover the facts and share them with the Board of Regents, the university, and ultimately with the people of Maryland.”
The new appointees will join three others who were previously selected by Loh: retired U.S. District Court judges Ben Legg and Alex Williams, and Charlie Scheeler, a former federal prosecutor. The board said that additional appointments or advisers could be named later and that the group has “been directed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead. In the meantime, we will continue to withhold all judgments and refrain from any speculation.”
“Once the commission has completed its work, the Board of Regents will make the decisions necessary to safeguard and support our students, both at College Park and at campuses across the state,” Brady said in the release. “Ultimately, we hope the commission’s findings, which will be made public for everyone to review, can also help guide other universities and systems across the country.”