By Ken Reed
The athletic department at the University of Maryland — like the athletic departments at many of the school’s counterparts in Power Five conferences across the country — is so far removed from the educational mission of the rest of the university that there is no redeeming reason for it to be under the school’s umbrella.
Maryland football player Jordan McNair died recently of heatstroke following abusive and reckless behavior on the part of Maryland coaches and trainers during an offseason workout. A promising young man’s life was cut short and it was entirely preventable.
Following McNair’s death, a letter writer to the Washington Post powerfully decried the win-at-all-costs “subculture” at Maryland:
“Although the investigation into Mr. McNair’s death is ongoing, it has revealed, according to published reports in The Post, a culture around the football program in which these student-athletes were reportedly subjected to abusive behavior on the part of the football staff,” wrote Barry M. King.
“We have seen this movie before in any number of Division I athletic programs: Apparently, winning is more important than the purpose and ideals of the universities. These campus subcultures operate with insularity and lack of accountability until something goes horribly wrong. These subcultures are too often predictive of behavior that is antithetical to the mission of any university.”
King describes himself as a proud parent and grandparent of graduates of the University of Maryland, and a Maryland citizen and taxpayer. He says he’s “deeply disturbed” about the out-of-control sports culture that resulted in McNair’s death.
King’s willingness to give public voice to his anger at the hypocrisy at the heart of big-time of college athletics is exactly what we need a lot more of in this country if we are to get control of the college sports beast and prevent more unnecessary deaths like McNair’s.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.