In her first statement since being elected Board of Regents chair Wednesday, former Lockheed Martin executive Linda Gooden apologized to the family of Jordan McNair and the University of Maryland community for the board’s personnel recommendations in the wake of the Maryland football scandal, which led to the resignation of chair James Brady last week.
“[T]he board – in the minds of many – lost sight of its responsibility to the university system,” Gooden said in a statement. “[E]veryone on the board now understands that the board’s personnel recommendations were wrong. For that, we apologize to the McNair family, the University of Maryland, College Park community, and to the citizens of our state.”
At an Oct. 30 press conference, Brady announced the board — which determines policy for the University System of Maryland’s 12 member institutions — recommended university President Wallace Loh reinstate coach DJ Durkin and retain athletic director Damon Evans.
The board reportedly also suggested that the university keep athletic trainers Wes Robinson and Steve Nordwall — whose failure to treat McNair’s heatstroke made it fatal — although Brady said at the press conference that the training staff was “not part of what we looked at.”
The regents’ decisions led to severe blowback from media, politicians and students, with McNair’s family and their lawyers calling for Brady’s resignation.
On Oct. 31, Loh disobeyed the board and fired Durkin, and Brady left his post the following day, ending a nearly four-year tenure as chairman. The university announced earlier Wednesday that Robinson and Nordwall are “no longer employed” at Maryland.
Gooden, a former Lockheed Martin executive, was originally appointed to the board by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2009 and reappointed by Gov. Larry Hogan in 2014. Hogan, who won re-election Tuesday, also appointed Brady to his post in 2015.
When Brady announced the personnel recommendations, he acknowledged the decision wasn’t unanimous, but didn’t specify further. The board has yet to release the full breakdown of votes from its members.
Gooden will oversee a system whose flagship university is still reeling from McNair’s death and two subsequent external investigations. With Loh still set to retire at the end of the academic year, Gooden’s board will also handle the hiring of a new university president in 2019.
In a statement, Loh said he looked forward to “working with [Gooden] and the Board to advance the educational, research, and public service missions of UMCP for the benefit of the people of our State.”
Vice-chair Barry Gossett served on an interim basis following Brady’s departure. Gossett, a prominent Maryland athletics booster, supplied $10 million in 2007 for the construction of the football team house, which is named for him and his late wife, Mary. The Gossetts also donated $21.25 million earlier this year to form an academic and career center for student-athletes.
Gooden attended Youngstown State and University of Maryland University College. She’s since served on executive boards for this university’s engineering school and other institutions within the system.