To explain, I have a degree from the University of Maryland, but I will never again set foot on campus or support the organization; at least as far as I can see. That stems because of the actions that this university made in the firing of their head football coach, which took them far longer to do than it should have. And the reality is is that the University of Maryland has shown me that it no longer conforms to my value systems.
First a reset. There’s a 19-year-old student who died in July in the summer training camp because, quite frankly, the football head coach and his assistants screwed up. Screwed up on multiple accounts. It took them far too long to call for appropriate medical attention that could have possibly saved the kid’s life. Secondly, they created a toxic environment by which tough guys have to just suck it up, even if it kills them. Now, Maryland, in its infinite wisdom, decided to prolong the agony by holding a couple of investigations and allowing the board of regents to essentially make a determination whether the head football coach was culpable. Of course, he’s culpable. He’s the head coach. He is accountable for those actions. And yet, even after having plausible deniability of any personal vendetta, the board of regents and its chair were gonna reinstate this guy. And then it took the president 24 hours to reverse that decision.
Whether you’re a CEO of a big for-profit conglomerate or you’re the head of a financial services shop that has a storefront in your local neighborhood, you need to show good faith and integrity that falls in line with what your customers share. If no, you will quickly run in conflict with them. They will not trust you, and they will take their business elsewhere. Crisis PR professionals know this, which is why if you have an incident as horrific as the one Maryland had, you must demonstrate empathy and take immediate action. Maryland did neither. And it’s because of that that I will now devote my entire support for higher education with my other alma mater, San Diego State University. Go Aztecs.