Report on Maryland football details a culture of ‘fear’ within the program under D.J. Durkin

The internal probe into the culture of the Maryland football program under D.J. Durkin has wrapped up, and it reportedly slams a culture of “fear.” 

The Washington Post got a glimpse of the final copy — which included interviews with former players, the parents of current players, current and athletic department staff members. It paints an alarming picture of the Terrapins.

“The commission found that the Maryland football team did not have a ‘toxic culture,’ but it did have a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out,” according to a copy obtained by the Post. 

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents received the report last Friday and met Tuesday in Baltimore to decide the fate of members of the athletic department who were involved in the incident. Those actions have not been made public. 

The report says that there wasn’t a culture of accountability within the program, Durkin didn’t receive the tools and guidance that a first-time head coach should receive and that there was inadequate oversight in the day-to-day operation of the program under Durkin’s watch.

The investigation paints Durkin as a coach who genuinely cares about the well-being of his players, but had an “open-door policy” that effectively only existed for people who had similar views. He also failed to provide oversight into the operation of the strength and conditioning program under former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who was let go on Aug. 14. The details of Court’s actions were revealed in the report.

“This included challenging a player’s manhood and hurling homophobic slurs. 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.”

The investigation stems from the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair. McNair collapsed at practice on May 29, and died on July 13 due to heatstroke. The training staff didn’t notice signs of heatstroke prior to McNair collapsing at practice, and the 6-foot-4, 320-pound offensive lineman reportedly had a seizures between the time he collapsed and the time a 911 call was placed an hour later.

“We have learned that Jordan did not receive appropriate medical care and mistakes were made by some of our athletic training personnel. … The emergency response plan was not appropriately followed,” athletic director Damon Evans said on Aug. 14. “Second, the care we provided was not consistent with best practices. And third, heat illness was not properly identified or treated. Our athletic training staff did not take Jordan’s temperature and did not apply a cold-water immersion treatment.”

Durkin has been on administrative leave since Aug. 11, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been serving as the interim head coach during the first two months of the regular season.

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