Just over two weeks ago, Maryland football became the subject of national scrutiny after reports on the timeline of Jordan McNair’s death and an alleged “toxic culture” in the program. Since then, seemingly everyone has weighed in on the situation—players and coaches and fans alike, connections to the parties involved or not.
Scott Van Pelt, the SportsCenter anchor who’s become one of Maryland’s most high-profile alumni, broke a silence of sorts and provided his thoughts during Friday night’s show as his “One Big Thing” segment.
“Attack the story and defend the coach—it’s what I say fans always do when something comes out about their favorite team,” he opened. “Then it’s your favorite team—my favorite team, a coach I know and like.”
Van Pelt didn’t say much about Durkin specifically, but noted that when he attended a Terps practice last year, the atmosphere was intense “but not unusually so.” While he pointed out that several of Durkin’s former players at Maryland defended him, he conceded that the words of McNair’s father (who’s called for Durkin’s firing) have held more weight among many. He was most critical of the university taking two months to publicly acknowledge its mistakes in the handling of McNair’s death.
“I understand there were internal reviews ongoing, and those do take time,” he said. “But public silence creates, at a minimum, the appearance that leadership wasn’t proactive in the months after McNair passed and before the story was written. And I imagine that will ultimately prove costly.”
Van Pelt didn’t call for anyone’s job, but acknowledged that the fallout might involve severe changes across the university.
“They talk about fearless ideas there in College Park,” he said. “Right now, it requires that. Look in the mirror and be honest with what you see, and know that whatever it is they—and we—aspire to be as a university, it has to be better than this most recent chapter.”
In other news
We had a full weekend of Maryland sports!
The No. 4-ranked field hockey team was absolutely dominant, beating Pacific 3-0 and California 5-0 thanks in large part to Nike Lorenz, a junior international transfer who scored five goals in her first two NCAA games. The Terps are back in action today at 2 p.m. ET against UC Davis.
Men’s soccer wasn’t so lucky, falling 2-0 to Washington.
And volleyball went 2-1 in Adam Hughes’ first tournament weekend as head coach.
This week ..... we’ve got football! Buuuut the Terps are still under fire. Maryland has added five members to the panel investigating the program’s culture.
And lawyer Donald Maurice Jackson’s phrase of choice to describe the whole athletic department? DYSFUNCTIONAL VIPER PIT.
Yep. Happy football season.