After university President Wallace Loh disobeyed the Board of Regents’ recommendation he retain head football coach DJ Durkin on Wednesday, the lawyers representing Jordan McNair’s family are calling for Regents Chairman James Brady to be fired and for Loh to not go through with his planned retirement in June.
“What happens next be should be that Jim Brady, the chairman of the Board of Regents, should be dismissed,” attorney Billy Murphy said Wednesday. “He is a remaining impediment for justice for this young man.”
Loh had reservations about Durkin’s return, but the board issued him an ultimatum: either bring Durkin back or lose his job. While the board has hiring and firing power over university presidents, it is not explicitly allowed to make personnel decisions regarding employees at the campus level.
Murphy’s law firm, Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, had previously accused the board of wanting to punish Loh for political motives unrelated to McNair’s death from heatstroke suffered at a team workout or the ensuing investigation into the football program’s culture. Murphy raised Loh’s 2015 push to rename the university’s football stadium from Byrd Stadium to Maryland Stadium — which was approved by the Board of Regents in a motion Brady voted against — as a potential factor.
“[Brady] was the architect for the absolutely outrageous decision that the board made,” Murphy said. “We can no longer have any confidence that he will operate out of pure motives instead of operating out of the numerous agendas to satisfy, including his own, in this case. And so we’re urging the governor to dismiss him.”
McNair’s parents, Marty McNair and Tonya Wilson, and their lawyers had been calling for Durkin’s firing since an August ESPN report that alleged a toxic culture under Durkin. On Tuesday, after the university accepted the recommendation to continue with Durkin, Marty McNair said he felt “like [he’d] been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in [his] face.”
But even at a press conference that day, McNair’s family and lawyers reiterated their support for Loh, who earned their trust in mid-August by accepting “legal and moral” responsibility for Jordan McNair’s death. And Tuesday, Murphy said he wanted Brady removed to allow Loh to “continue to be the chancellor of this great university without having to worry about Jim Brady attempting to fire him,” and Marty McNair said he also felt Loh should stay.
“We again want to thank everybody involved for taking us this far,” Murphy said, “but we have further to go, and that is real justice for this family.”