Maryland ‘accepts legal and moral responsibility for mistakes’ that led to Jordan McNair’s death

13 Comments

At an ofttimes emotional press conference Tuesday afternoon, officials from the University of Maryland, including president Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans, addressed the ongoing investigation into the death of a Maryland football player this summer. At the press conference, which came after both Loh and Evans met with the player’s family Tuesday morning, the president stated that he told the family that the university “accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made on that fateful workout day.”

“They basically misdiagnosed the situation,” Loh said of the training staff. “No vital signs were not taken.  Other safeguarding actions were not taken. For me, that’s enough for me to say I need to personally apologize to Jordan’s family.”

Most heartbreakingly, Loh acknowledged that McNair’s death could’ve been prevented.

The press conference came three days after head coach D.J. Durkin was placed on administrative leave and not long after the attorney representing the family of deceased Terrapins football player Jordan McNair called for Durkin’s dismissal.

Durkin’s leave stemmed from a damning report late last week in which it was alleged McNair was showing signs of distress before he collapsed during a workout in late May, dying a little over two weeks later of what his family described as heatstroke.  That same report, which led to the suspensions of the training staff and strength & conditioning coach as well, also detailed a “toxic” culture within the football program under Durkin, one based on fear, intimidation, belittling, humiliation and embarrassment.  Players were, allegedly, routinely subjected to what was described as extreme verbal abuse.

Perhaps the most noteworthy comments to come out of the presser, at least when it comes to Durkin’s future as head coach, is the fact that Loh made sure to place the onus for what was described as a misdiagnosed situation on the athletic training staff, not the coaching staff.  It had previously been confirmed that Durkin was in attendance at the workout in which McNair collapsed.

At the press conference, it was also confirmed that head strength & conditioning Rick Court is no longer with the team.   It was subsequently learned that Court resigned after reaching a financial settlement with the university.

Additionally, a four-person committee has been formed by Loh to address the reports of a toxic culture within the football program.  That committee’s findings will likely determine whether or not Durkin returns as the head coach.

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada was named interim head coach when Durkin was placed on leave; Canada will continue on in that role as long as Durkin remains away from his team.  Canada spent one rocky season as the coordinator at LSU before the pair’s divorce was made final in early January.

Durkin, who came to Maryland in December of 2015 after one season as the defensive coordinator at Michigan, spent the past two seasons with the Terrapins.  In that span, the Terps went 10-15 overall and 5-13 in Big Ten play, with finishes of fifth (2016) and sixth (2017) in the conference’s East division.  This past season, UM went 4-8 and carried a 2-7 record in league play into the offseason.

Billy Murphy, the McNair family’s attorney, stated earlier this month that his law firm is “leaning” toward filing a civil lawsuit in federal court, but will wait until the university wraps up its investigation before choosing a course of action.  That investigation is expected to be completed by the middle of September.

Pitt announces hiring of ex-Maryland WRs coach Chris Beatty

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nearly three weeks after clearing out a pair of spots on his offensive coaching staff, Pat Narduzzi has filled in those self-created holes.

Jan. 4, Shawn Watson was fired as Pitt’s offensive coordinator, replaced a little over a week later by former UMass head coach Mark Whipple.  The same day Watson was fired, Kevin Sherman was dismissed as wide receivers coach; Wednesday, Pitt confirmed that Chris Beatty has been hired as Sherman’s replacement.

Sherman spent the past three seasons at Maryland as receivers coach.  He also served as co-offensive coordinator and held the title of associate head coach while with the Terrapins.

“Chris is an absolutely outstanding addition to our staff,” Narduzzi said in a statement. “His expertise goes well beyond one position on the offensive side of the ball. That diverse experience is going to be an incredible asset for our players and entire coaching staff. He is also a highly driven recruiter with valuable contacts in so many key areas. We are looking forward to welcoming Chris, his wife Kris and his son Aaron to both Pitt and Pittsburgh.”

Prior to Maryland, Beatty spent time on Power Five coaching staffs at Virginia (2015), Wisconsin (2013-14), Illinois (2012), Vanderbilt (2011) and West Virginia (2008-10).  In addition to receivers, he’s also coaching quarterbacks and running backs.

Cadillac Williams returning to Auburn as RBs coach

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A legend is coming home to The Plains.  Reportedly.

According to  Scout.com and FootballScoop.com among others, Cadillac Williams is set to be named as the next running backs coach at Auburn.  Williams would replace Tim Horton, who moved into an off-field role earlier this month.

An official announcement on Williams’ hiring could come as early as today.

Williams played running back for the Tigers from 2001-04, finishing with 3,831 yards and 45 touchdowns on 741 attempts.  The carries were the most in AU history at the time of his departure, while the yards and touchdowns were second to Bo Jackson.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made Williams the fifth pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, and he went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.  H ended up playing seven years in the NFL before retiring following the end of the 2011 season.

The 36-year-old Williams’ coaching career began in 2016 as an offensive graduate assistant at Div. II West Georgia.  He went to IMG Academy in Florida as running backs coach before moving on to the same position the Birmingham franchise in the newly-created Alliance of American Football.

UPDATED 2:36 p.m. ET: Based on a tweet from Auburn football’s official Twitter account, Williams’ return to the Tigers is official.

Police investigating death of FCS player as a suicide

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sadly, there’s more tragic news involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets, University of Montana Grizzly football player Andrew Harris was found dead at his residence in Missoula Tuesday.  The Missoulian writes that “police are investigating the scene as a suicide.”

Harris was just 22 years old.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Andrew’s family and friends at this difficult time,” university president Seth Bodnar said in a statement sent out to the Missoulian. “The entire UM family mourns his loss and our hearts go out to all who knew him.”

A redshirt junior, Harris was a defensive lineman who played in 11 games during his time with the Griz.  Our thoughts, prayers and condolences going out to all of those impacted by Harris’ passing.

And for those in the reading audience: The phone number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.  Please, pick up the phone and call that number if you ever get to the point where you feel like you just can’t go on.  Or call somebody, anybody.

South Carolina’s third-leading rusher enters NCAA transfer database

Getty Images
1 Comment

Another day, another trip into the infamous portal.

The latest to put his name onto the free-agent market is Ty’Son Williams, who a South Carolina official has confirmed is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.  If Williams follows through with the move — he can always remove his name from the database and return — it would be the running back’s second transfer as he came to USC in August of 2016 after beginning his collegiate playing career at North Carolina.

As Williams would be leaving as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if he ultimately decides to leave.

Williams was third on the Gamecocks with 328 yards rushing in 2018, while his four rushing touchdowns tied for the team lead.  The year before, his first on the field at USC after sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he was second on the team in yards (471) and yards per carry (5.0).

A four-star member of UNC’s 2016 recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 21 running back in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.