"Byrd Stadium" is no more, as the University System of Maryland's board of regents voted on Friday to rename the College Park football stadium, for the time being, "Maryland Stadium."
The name change reflected widespread calls to move away from the prominent featuring of Curley Byrd, a storied university president whose many views included a vocal brand of segregation.
Byrd's current successor, Wallace Loh, spoke with Testudo Times briefly after the regents' 12-5 vote to accept his recommendation to remove Byrd's name from the venue. Loh had opposed renaming the stadium in the past, but he came around to propose this week that the regents give the venue a new name.
Here's our conversation, lightly edited for clarity:
Testudo Times: "Now that this is all over, did you feel like there was a point in this process over the last year or so where you where this gained momentum? What made it right now for this to happen?
Wallace Loh: "As many people said, as people talked about it and thought about it, opinions started to change, including mine."
TT: "When the Board of Regents met today (Friday), did you suspect the outcome would be what it was?"
Loh: "No. The board, of course, are very thoughtful people. They're independent thinkers. So, no, I did not know how they will vote."
TT: "When you were coming to your own opinion, which is in the recommendations, at what point did you decide for yourself that you wanted to make the change?"
Loh: "It was not like a sudden conversion. I shifted back and forth. I began saying that we should not change it. And then it was a very gradual process, talking to lots and lots of people, listening to their views and then gradually evolving to the current position."
TT: "You mentioned the student-athletes [in your address to the regents] and the football players. Do you believe that it was the consensus of the players on the football team that they wanted to play in a stadium with a different name?"
Loh: "The athletic director told me that he and the coaches – most of the coaches and he – were strongly supportive. He talked to a number of student-athletes and they were supportive. But, no, he did not do a poll, and we do not believe these issues of leadership should be based on simply an opinion poll."
TT: "[Student advocate for the renaming] Colin Byrd said the football players were not allowed to speak about this topic. Do you know anything about that?"
Loh: "I do not know. I think every student on this campus, whether they're student-athletes or not student-athletes, have the right to speak. That is a right they have as citizens of this country."
A Maryland athletic department official said shortly after the meeting that players are permitted to speak on the issue.