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University of Maryland Statement - August 23, 2018

August 23, 2018

Statement from the University of Maryland: 

On August 29, 2017, university administration first learned that the then-Athletic Director directed the hiring of an attorney, who had been representing two student-athletes in a sexual misconduct case for approximately two months. The attorney had been promised funds controlled by the Athletic Department to represent the accused. 

This was brought to the attention of the President’s Office immediately by the then-Executive Athletic Director after first learning of the arrangement when the lawyer submitted an invoice to the department. The President's Office, the Office of General Counsel, the Athletic Compliance Office and the then-Executive Athletic Director were not involved in or consulted on the original decision made to hire and pay the lawyer. Protocols requiring General Counsel to retain outside counsel had not been followed in the hiring. 

In response, the President’s Office immediately directed the then-Athletic Director to cut ties with the attorney. 

NCAA bylaws allow member institutions to pay for legal counsel for proceedings that might affect a student-athlete’s eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics. However, the decision to hire this lawyer showed a serious lack of judgement in a sexual misconduct case, given the university’s commitment to a fair and impartial handling of all such matters.

On September 27, it came to the attention of the President’s Office that its previous instruction to cut ties with the attorney had not been followed. The President’s Office directed the Office of General Counsel to immediately launch an internal investigation to determine why this had happened.  

This sexual misconduct case was handled by our Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct and the Office of Student Conduct independently, impartially, and without favoritism. Legal representation is common in proceedings related to sexual misconduct, and while lawyers can advocate for the rights of the accused, they do not determine the outcome or verdict. That is the job of our independent Standing Review Committee.

Federal privacy laws prevent releasing the outcomes of individual sexual misconduct cases. There were six expulsions for sexual misconduct in the last fiscal year (July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017). 

The President briefed the Board of Regents last fall to update them on this matter.