“Donovan, I can’t talk, I am teaching,” the younger Pines remembered his father saying. “Everyone had a good laugh.”
Over the years, Darryll Pines has gone from professor to dean of the engineering school — and emerging soccer fan — to president of the state’s flagship university. His appointment was announced Wednesday by the state university system’s board of regents. This summer, he will succeed Wallace D. Loh, who is retiring.
“I never thought it would come to this,” the younger Pines said. “People would say, ‘He should be the next president!’ It’s really astonishing how everyone looked up to him. I am just really proud that my dad left a mark on everyone and he is now the president.”
Except for a leave of absence between 2003 and ’06 to work on a federal project, Darryll Pines, 55, has been affiliated with Maryland since 1995. Both Donovan and an elder sister, Kalala, enrolled.
Donovan, a member of United’s youth academy, played three seasons for the Terrapins and anchored the 2018 NCAA championship squad before signing an MLS homegrown contract last winter.
Education was always a high priority in the Pines household in Howard County. Donovan’s sister is pursuing a graduate degree in physical therapy at Emory and “my parents hope I get a PhD,” Donovan said.
He is close with his sister and said he feels bad when the public’s attention is on him and their father.
“So I always make sure I call her because she has always always supported me,” he said.
After turning pro, Donovan continued pursuing his degree. He took two classes this past offseason and has about two semesters left.
An environmental science major with an interest in battling a fungus attacking amphibians around the world, Pines had to switch his focus to sociology because a pro soccer career did not allow for required lab work.
His parents attended most Maryland games, including many away matches.
“I always knew my mom was there,” he said, “because I recognized her scream.”
Sylvia Pines works in real estate with her twin sister.
Darryll was a basketball and football fan but grew to appreciate soccer. As president, he will become the second consecutive university leader to take a keen interest in the sport. Loh often attended home matches, standing next to the bench at Ludwig Field, steps from Coach Sasho Cirovski.
“Soccer became a passion for me and he started to understand it meant so much to me,” said Donovan, a 6-foot-5 center back currently sidelined five to six weeks with an ankle injury. “He started telling me what to do in games, and I was like, ‘Dad, I know you’re trying to help but …’ ”
After the Terrapins won the national championship, Donovan said, “I hugged him and thanked him for always supporting me. And, I’ll never forget this: He said, ‘I will always be proud of you, Donovan. You’re the best son.’ ”