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University of Maryland Placed on Warning Amid Accreditation Review

The University of Maryland, College Park is at risk of losing its accreditation after the Middle States Commission on Higher Education sent a warning letter to the school.

The commission met on Thursday and placed the university, along with two other colleges, on warning for not complying with its standards for accreditation and requirements of affiliation.

The decision comes in the aftermath of the death of Jordan McNair, a 19-year-old football player who collapsed from heatstroke following a preseason practice in May 2018, according to an article by CNN.

In February, the university submitted a supplemental report in compliance with the commission’s instruction, The Baltimore Sun reported. University officials also met with commission leaders in late March or early April.

Margaret M. McMenamin, the chair of the commission, said that it “identified concerns regarding the institution’s compliance with Standard VII (Governance, Leadership, and Administration) and more specifically transparency of its governance structure,” that forced its members to place the university on the warning. The standard requires the university to “operate as an academic institution with appropriate autonomy.”

Earlier investigations into the conduct of two of the school’s trainers, Steve Nordwall and Wes Robinson, found that they did not follow proper protocols, ultimately leading to the death of 19-year-old football player.

DJ Durkin, the team’s head football coach, along with the two athletic trainers, were placed on paid leave later in August following an ESPN report on “toxic culture at Maryland football,” which detailed disturbing methods used to coach the players. These methods included primarily relying on fear, intimidation, humiliation, verbal abuse and using food punitively.

Later, the Maryland Board of Regents recommended the return of all the three employees despite the accusations against them, a decision met with stiff resistance from parents and student groups, who had been calling for their suspension. Ultimately, the university was forced to fire Durkin in November.

The University of Maryland, University System of Maryland and Board of Regents issued a joint statement on Friday, claiming that they are already working toward full compliance with commission standards.

“USM Board of Regents, USM, and UMCP are committed to working together to ensure that the governance structure clearly specifies the roles, responsibilities, and accountability of each constituency and that these are in full alignment with MSCHE Standard VII,” the statement reads.

“Moreover, that there is periodic assessment of the effectiveness of governance, leadership, and administration in accordance with Standard VII. Progress towards full compliance is already underway and will be completed by March 1, 2020.”

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