Maryland coach DJ Durkin was reinstated to his position with the Terrapins on Tuesday after an exhaustive investigation into a “culture of fear” that existed within the football program. At least three current players reportedly weren’t thrilled about Durkin’s return to the team.
According to Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic and Adam Rittenberg of ESPN, three players walked out on the meeting with Durkin this morning, just hours before his return was made official. The identities of those players are unknown. Durkin met with the players this morning after the Board of Regents informed him and athletic director Damon Evans of their decision.
“The first thing that Damon Evans did was to reach out and contact all of the players and talk to them and their coaches, first and foremost, said university president Wallace Loh. “So the primary concern was they are the students who are affected, and if we are true to our mission that it is the well-being and the welfare of students, they are the first to know.”
Durkin and the Maryland football program came under fire following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair in June. McNair collapsed at practice on May 29, and died on July 13 due to heatstroke. The training staff failed to notice signs of heatstroke prior to McNair collapsing at practice, and roughly an hour elapsed between the time he collapsed and the time a 911 call was placed.
The way the program handled McNair’s heatstroke led to an investigation that ultimately brought upon Durkin’s suspension and the dismissal of former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court.
“We believe Mr. Durkin failed to adequately supervise strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, but that this failure is shared by the university’s athletic department,” Loh said Tuesday. “We believe that Coach Durkin has been unfairly blamed for the dysfunction in the athletic department, and while he shares some responsibility, it is not fair to put all of it at his feet. He has acknowledged his role in the athletic department’s shortcomings as he served as head coach, and he has committed to reforms.”
Durkin was put on administrative leave on Aug. 11 after details of the culture of the program were published by ESPN. That culture stemmed from the lack of oversight by Durkin pertaining to Court’s conduct, according to the full report which was released earlier this month.
“This included challenging a player’s manhood and hurling homophobic slurs,” the report read. “Additionally, Mr. Court would attempt to humiliate players in front of their teammates by throwing food, weights and, on one occasion, a trash can full of vomit, all behavior unacceptable by any reasonable standard. These actions failed the student-athletes he claimed to serve.”
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has served as the interim head coach of the Terrapins during the first two months of the season. Maryland hosts Michigan State on Saturday afternoon.
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