The University of Maryland football program and athletic department are in complete dis-array after a weekend full of turmoil. Head football coach DJ Durkin has been placed on administrative leave along with strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, director of athletic training Steve Nordwall and the athletic trainer Wes Robinson.
This fallout stemmed from the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair during a workout in May.
On Friday, Aug. 10, ESPN reported a story where several Maryland Football players and those involved with the program described a “toxic coaching culture” under head coach DJ Durkin. The story provided anonymous quotes from reported players and staff members, and there were anecdotes describing the cruel acts that produced the “toxic coaching culture.”
Some examples of the toxic culture were given in the quotes ESPN gathered from their sources.
“There is a coaching environment based on fear and intimidation,” one of ESPN’s sources said. ” In one example, a player holding a meal while in a meeting had the meal slapped out of his hands in front of the team. At other times, small weights and others objects were thrown in the direction of players when Court (S&C coach) was angry.”
“The belittling, humiliation and embarrassment of players is common. In one example, a player whom coaches wanted to lose weight was forced to eat candy bars as he was made to watch teammates working out.”
There are other anecdotes that describe the last two years of the football program as an extremely tough, unloving environment. Athletic director Damon Evans released a statement via the University of Maryland Athletics Twitter account.
Damon Evans has announced Coach DJ Durkin is on leave effective immediately while a thorough examination of our coaching practices is conducted. Matt Canada will serve as interim head coach. We must do better, and we will rebuild a culture of respect in our football program. pic.twitter.com/lQArXIrkeB
— Maryland Terrapins (@umterps) August 11, 2018
Evans was named interim athletic director during the initial investigation of McNair’s death.
The original investigation from the athletic department did not find any wrongdoing from the coaching staff, and Evans was shortly after promoted to full-time athletic director.
There will be another investigation after the ESPN report, and if there is proof that multiple staff members knew of any wrongdoing and turned a blind eye, there is a chance there is complete turnover not only among the football staff, but the entire athletic department.