COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The embattled University System Board of Regents is planning yet another secret meeting Thursday as the University's Provost and Deans are demanding support for President Wallace Loh.
Loh defied the Regents Wednesday evening by firing head football coach DJ Durkin, and now faces the possibility of being forced out of his job before his announced retirement in June.
Durkin had been on leave since August in the wake of the heatstroke death of player Jordan McNair and allegations that the football program under Durkin was rife with a culture of humiliation and abuse.
Thursday the University's academic leadership led by Provost Mary Ann Rankin issued a letter to the Regents:
"We, the academic leaders of the University of Maryland, write to express our dismay and deep concern for the events and the process that has led to the forced retirement of President Wallace D. Loh. We have been extremely alarmed for weeks by the interference of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents into University governance matters."
The letter, signed by all the academic deans at the university came after an explosive day of harsh reactions Wednesday to the reinstatement of Durkin.
Multiple sources told the Washington Post that Loh was given the choice of being fired or keeping Durkin and exiting on his own terms.
In a tense Wednesday announcement, Loh said he did not dispute the Regents findings that Durkin should return as coach. But Loh added he would retire in June after seeing that reforms in the University's dysfunctional athletics program were instituted.
Governor Larry Hogan was among many state leaders who called the decision to keep Durkin shocking.
In light of a Regents investigation that found abuse and humiliation of players by an assistant coach brought in by Durkin, student leaders Thursday called Loh's decision to defy the Regents courageous.
The Provost's letter warned the Regents not to move against Loh.
"We believe Dr. Loh’s leadership is critical for the university at this challenging time and we call upon the Board of Regents and the Chancellor to publicly affirm its support for Dr. Loh’s continued leadership of the state’s flagship university," the statement said.