This past Friday, over three months after the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents received a 200-page report that was the result of an investigation into allegations of a toxic culture within the football program. Citing multiple people who are familiar with the report, WTOP radio in Washington D.C. is reporting that the probe “found that the culture inside the football program at College Park is not what should be considered ‘toxic.'”
This would not be the first report to contradict the toxic labeled placed on the program. In late September, the Washington Post wrote that “there was a growing sentiment among many close to the program that the eight-person commission will find that allegations of an unhealthy and abusive culture were overblown.”
Today’s report from the D.C. station comes two days after the regents met in closed session to discuss the investigation’s findings. Per ESPN.com, the 17 regents were in attendance for the closed session as well as five of the eight members of the commission that produced the report. The other three commission members participated over the phone.
After receiving the report, WTOP wrote, “a majority of the board was in favor of seeing the school move on from both football coach DJ Durkin and athletic director Damon Evans.” However, the regents do not have the authority to hire and fire university employees such as the head football coach; that responsibility falls to the leadership of the individual university. The University of Maryland’s president, Wallace Loh, though, has not been present at any of the meetings since the regents received the report and, according to the Washington Post, the board has refused to share a copy of the report with Loh.
Loh had originally been in charge of the commission before the board took control.
From the radio station’s report:
It also still appears that University of Maryland President Wallace Loh will eventually be departing as well. However, at the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting, his exit from the school wasn’t expected to be imminent. A source says a plan could be worked out that would see Loh step down in the spring of 2019.
Durkin, two members of the training staff and head strength & conditioning coach Rick Court were placed on administrative leave in early August after a bombshell report alleged mishandling of the medical event that preceded McNair’s death as well as a toxic culture within the football program. That report described the toxic culture under Durkin as one based on fear, intimidation, belittling, humiliation and embarrassment. Players were, allegedly, routinely subjected to what was described as extreme verbal abuse that included, in part, obscenity-laced epithets meant to mock their masculinity.
It has been alleged McNair was showing signs of distress before he collapsed during a workout, with Durkin in attendance, in late May, dying a little over two weeks later of what his family described as heatstroke. McNair’s attorney and his parents have all called for Durkin’s dismissal, with the family reportedly not willing to discuss a settlement with the university until Durkin is removed as the head football coach.
Durkin has not coached in any of Maryland’s seven games this season as he remains on administrative leave. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has served as acting head coach for the 4-3 Terrapins.
The commission’s report on its investigative findings is expected to be discussed again during a conference call involving the Board of Regents Thursday afternoon. A public release of the report is expected no later than the middle of next week.