While Ohio State is stealing the headlines with their own firestorm, the University of Maryland is not far behind it’s Big Ten partner. The Terrapins have had a firestorm of a summer with the untimely death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who died two weeks after collapsing during a conditioning workout on campus. Their head coach, D.J. Durkin, and several other members of their athletic training staff including strength and conditioning coach Rick Court were placed on administrative leave in the wake of McNair’s death stemming from an ESPN report that detailed a toxic culture towards the student athletes — Court later resigned and the university’s board is still looking into how to handle Durkin, athletic director Damon Evans and president Wallace Loh in the aftermath.
Now comes another disturbing story involving Maryland’s football program. According to Christine Condon of Maryland’s student paper, The Diamondback, former athletic director Kevin Anderson intervened in a sexual misconduct case involving two players by using $15,000 of the athletic department’s funds to hire a legal defense to represent the two football players. The report notes that Anderson failed to part ways with the lawyers after being directed to do so by the university. The university launched an internal investigation. In a statement the school described hiring lawyers using the university’s funds was a “serious lack of judgement in a sexual misconduct case.”
While the NCAA does allow schools to pay for lawyers in cases involving student-athletes, it does not allow athletic departments to do such in cases that involve sexual misconduct allegations. Anderson took a six-month sabbatical before eventually resigning towards the end of the six-month period shortly after the investigation. He was later replaced by then-interim AD Damon Evans.
Anderson is now removed from the program, but this does not help the program’s image at all. And while on separate matters, does wrap into a culture that gives the university another black eye surrounding its football program.
Just as the university seemingly were trying to clean up one big mess by parting ways with Anderson, they have stepped into another pile of mess with McNair’s passing and the circumstances that surrounded his death. Sexual misconduct allegations, an athletic director using questionable ethics that may have led to his departure, a death of a student-athlete that may have stemmed from a reported mishandling of treatment by the training staff, and later a damaging report of the coaching staff physically and verbally mistreating players, is now the painted images of the Maryland Terrapins’ football program.
A clean slate may be the only logical way to recover for the university. And according to reports, that may indeed be the thinking of the Board of Regents. Suddenly, the upcoming 2018 football season is an afterthought to whirlwind swarming the program.