Foot­ball shouldn’t be No. 1

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Re­gard­ing the Oct. 31 front-page ar­ti­cle “U-Md. re­gents side with school’s foot­ball coach”:

It seemed the Univer­sity Sys­tem of Mary­land Board of Re­gents took the po­si­tion that foot­ball trumps aca­demics at the Univer­sity of Mary­land. This was a fa­mil­iar re­frain. In the 1990s, when I was a grad­u­ate stu­dent and in­struc­tor at the Univer­sity of Mary­land in Col­lege Park, I was in­vited to be a fac­ulty guest coach for the foot­ball team. At­tend­ing the pregame break­fast, I re­call gasp­ing when the coach held up two fingers while say­ing that aca­demics were No. 1, then hold­ing up one fin­ger while say­ing foot­ball comes sec­ond to aca­demics. Ev­ery­one in the room got the joke, but I cringed at the not-so-sub­tle mes­sage.

As a U-Md. alumna, I have fol­lowed with sad­ness the ar­ti­cles de­tail­ing the pre­ventable death of foot­ball player Jor­dan Mc­Nair, with re­ports lay­ing bare the fail­ure of ath­letic trainers to ap­pro­pri­ately di­ag­nose and treat Mc­Nair. Re­ports fur­ther sug­gest bul­ly­ing and abu­sive be­hav­ior from coach­ing staff. I was shocked to learn that Pres­i­dent Wal­lace D. Loh, who ac­cepted le­gal and moral re­spon­si­bil­ity for Mc­Nair’s death, is out, and Coach DJ Durkin was re­tained.

Thank­fully, on the shoul­ders of the ath­letes, the univer­sity re­jected the re­gents’ rec­om­men­da­tion and fired Mr. Durkin, as re­ported in the Nov. 1 front-page ar­ti­cle “U-Md. fires its foot­ball coach af­ter up­roar.” May Mc­Nair rest in peace. May U-Md. re-pri­or­i­tize its com­mit­ments. Bethany Letiecq, Clifton

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