Maryland has placed head football coach D.J. Durkin on administrative leave following allegations of a “toxic culture” in the wake of the death of 19-year old Jordan McNair. Damon Evans, the university’s athletic director, announced that Durkin would be placed on admin leave effective immediately while a thorough investigation of the program’s coaching practices is conducted. Recently hired Matt Canada will serve as the interim head coach.
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 also stated that the external investigation of the circumstances that led to the death of McNair will continue and the university is “committed” to publicly releasing the results of the independent and national expert.
On Friday, ESPN released two damaging reports that questioned the program’s coaching practices. One stating that McNair reportedly showed signs of a heatstroke before he collapsed during a May 29 conditioning workout. Multiple anonymous players told ESPN of how the training staff mishandled the situation before a 911 call was placed for the offensive lineman. McNair died two weeks later while hospitalized.
The second ESPN report talked of a toxic coaching environment that coaches ridiculed and mistreated players on a consistent basis. Belittling, humiliating and embarrassing players were a common practice. Incidents such a player’s meal being knocked out of his hand while in a team meeting, a player coaches wanted to lose weight was forced to eat candy bars as he was made to watch teammates work out, and one player was forced to overeat to the point of vomiting.
A former Maryland staff member told Stewart Mandel of the Athletic “I would never, ever, ever allow my child to be coached there.”
Maryland hired Durkin in 2016 after he served a year as the defensive coordinator at Michigan. In two seasons, Durkin has a 10-15 overall record and 5-13 record in the Big Ten Conference.