- - Thursday, August 16, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Maryland Board of Regents is scheduled to hold a closed-door meeting Friday.

They like those closed-door meetings.

They had some doozies nearly five years ago, meeting in secret to discuss the move by the school to the Big Ten Athletic Conference.

Turns out they broke the law then, according to the state Open Meetings Compliance Board.

This time, though, they may have grounds to meeting privately Friday – legal reasons, as they say in the closed-door meeting business.

They have to figure out how much of that Big Ten money the death of Maryland football player Jordan McNair is going to cost them.

The one-man gang of college sports reporting, Brett McMurphy first reported that the meeting will be closed because the board will discuss a potential lawsuit against the University of Maryland, College Park as well as “personnel matters” related to the future of football coach D.J. Durkin (currently on administrative leave), athletic director Damon Evans and President Wallace D. Loh.

They may not have enough Big Ten money to pay for the pain and suffering of the McNair family and the damage to the school.

It’s crass and insensitive to be discussing money in the wake of the death of a young man — a death that could have been prevented, save for the gladiator school Durkin and his staff were operating, according to an ESPN report that cited the “toxic” culture of the football program.

But that is what the meeting Friday is about — how to protect themselves, from lawsuits to payoffs.

That’s what the press conference Wednesday by school president Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans was about — damage control, in this case, their own.

The school reportedly just paid football strength and conditioning coach Rick Court $315,000 as part of the agreement for him to leave the program — officially he resigned. Court is a big part of the ESPN report about the abuse in the football program. Court allegedly forced injured players to participate in workouts and was verbally abusive to him, among other charges.

That’s a strength and conditioning coach. What’s it going to cost to cut Evans, who, though was just named athletic director in June after serving as interim since October, has been part of the program — and arguably, part of the problem — since 2014? He signed a six-year, $800,000 contract just two months ago.

And what about Loh? What’s it going to cost to pay him to leave? He received a $75,000 raise last year and reportedly earns close to $700,000 annually.

Don’t worry — Maryland is rolling in Big Ten money, right?

You know that faucet that was gushing money when Maryland moved to the Big Ten — $93 million in revenue in 2015? It is slowing — dramatically. A USA Today report showed that while the athletic department did bring in $95 million in revenue in 2017, that put them next to last among the 13 conference schools where that information is public.

Now, given the damage to the football program — already a Big Ten bottom feeder — as a result of this tragedy and scandal, Maryland will like rest at the bottom of the revenue chain in the Big Ten, with a football program destined for years of failure in a powerful football conference.

The basketball program? They seem to play soulless games in a soulless basketball conference, the tradition of ACC games now little more than a fond memory.

It’s also received several subpoenas in connection with the continuing federal investigation into college basketball corruption that resulted in the arrests of four assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California last September.

What will the fallout be from that?

How’s that Big Ten move looking now?

According to the bylaws of the University of Maryland Board of Regents, the board is “charged with responsibility for the governance and management of the University System of Maryland and all constituent institutions, centers, and institutes thereof.”

On Friday, that means governing and managing the damage from the death of a football player. This one they can discuss in private.

Thom Loverro’s podcast, “Cigars & Curveballs,” is available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver network.


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