DJ Durkin

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Report: Maryland informed of possible toxic football culture long before death of Jordan McNair


The Maryland football program is currently being investigated for allegations of running what has been described as a toxic football program, an allegation made in a blistering ESPN profile in August that led to the suspension of head coach D.J. Durkin. The investigation is expected to wrap up as early as today, but new details from a new report from the Washington Post claim Maryland officials had been warned about a possible toxic culture as early as December 2016. That would have been about a year and a half before the passing of former Maryland football player Jordan McNair, whose death has sparked concern about how the program has been operating.

The report from the Washington Post outlines the possible schedule to release the findings of its investigation, noting the report will likely be presented to the board of regents at the next scheduled meeting, on October 19. The report also updates the previous reports about when the investigation may conclude, saying it is expected to be finalized on Monday.

The report is expected to include information received from interviews with former players and their families. One anonymous mother of a former player provided a copy of a letter submitted to Maryland officials in December 2016, pointing out concerns about a “calamitous culture and abusive behaviors in the football program.” The letter was reportedly sent to Maryland President Wallace D. Loh‘s office and other officials, including former athletic director Kevin Anderson and medical administrators and the compliance office.

From the Washington Post report, quoting the anonymous letter;

It was perhaps prescient, saying: “The fact that he allows his coaches to psychologically, physically, and emotionally abuse the athletes is paving the way for a multi-million dollar civil lawsuit against the school and the coaches, alleging assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

“Are any of you aware or do you even care about the number of student athletes suffering from severe emotional distress because of the abusive actions of Coach Durkin?” it asked. “His actions are extreme and outrageous; intentional and reckless, and the sole cause of the emotional distress.”

It is unknown if this letter was reviewed by those currently conducting and organizing the investigation into the allegations of a toxic culture at Maryland.

The report goes on to provide details about how Durbin was accused of running the program, including the formation of a “Champions Club” for preferred players that was designed to be an incentive for competing within the program, but how those players in the club were treated compared to how those who were not could be seen as simply being divisive.

“If you were in that, you were treated with bags of gear, great food, massages,” one ex-player said. “Meanwhile, people not in the Champions Club were fed hot dogs and beans. They wanted to make a point. You were either loved or hated. If they didn’t like you, you were mentally and verbally abused by Coach Court and Coach Durkin.”

The details of other allegations of a toxic program only go on and one, including alleged fat-shaming by pouring treats on players having a bad weigh-in and having videos of violent images and animals killing each other playing in the training rooms to create a predator mentality.

You can read the full report HERE. In the meantime, we continue to wait for Maryland to close the books on this investigation and learn what the fallout may be. Durkin remains on administrative leave while Maryland’s football season continues.

Investigation details timeline of how Maryland trainers inadequately treated Jordan McNair

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The findings from an independent report into the handling of Maryland football player Jordan McNair has been released, and the report puts blame for the death of McNair on the athletic trainers who were on-hand.

“There was a failure to identify symptoms and aggressively treat it,” sports medicine consultant Dr. Rod Walters stated while addressing the report’s findings.

Although it was confirmed that doing so would have significantly improved the chances of successfully treating McNair, McNair was not placed in an ice bath while experiencing symptoms of heat stroke because an athletic trainer was concerned about his size. On top of that, there was a 34-minute delay in getting McNair off the practice field at the first sign of his symptoms and it took a total of one hour and 39 minutes before McNair was taken away in an ambulance for further medical attention.

The report details why cold water tanks were not available either, stating that the cold water tanks that were available at the time of the practice were inadequate.

Board of Regents Chair Jim Brandy denied saying whether or not this investigation was a display of negligence within the football program, but said he would like to gather more facts before saying whether or not that would be the case.

Maryland head coach DJ Durkin was confirmed to have been on the scene at the time of the heat-induced trauma, but there was no decision made on his fate on the basis of this report by the Maryland Board of Regents. However, Durkin will remain on administrative leave until the second investigation into the Maryland football program concludes. A second investigation has been ongoing regarding the accusations of being a football program with a so-called toxic culture. There is no timeline for when that investigation will wrap up, nor is there any suggestion as to when a decision on Durkin’s future with the program will ultimately be determined.

Report: Maryland spent $50,000 on coaching search consultant

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Hiring an outside party to assist in the search for a new football coach has become the norm in Division One sports, so news that Maryland shelled out some money to find the new head coach for the Terrapins football program is hardly shocking. In fact, the school may have gotten a decent bargain on the extra help compared to the amounts other schools have paid in the past to do the school’s work for them.

The Baltimore Sun reports Maryland paid $50,000 to Chuck Neinas and his Neinas Sports Services. That is less than a fifth of what Texas paid for assistance in the hiring of Charlie Strong and less than a sixth of what Colorado State paid to make the hiring of Jim McElwain (now the head coach at Florida). The former Big 12 commissioner has long held a role in the game and has lent a helping (hired) hand in coaching searches at a number of programs over the years, including Texas, Oklahoma, LSU and more. He was busy last year in helping Maryland eventually land Michigan assistant DJ Durkin and Virginia in hiring Bronco Mendenhall away from BYU.

“Most athletic directors have a short list of individuals that they’re interested in and then it frequently gets augmented from various sources,” Neinas said Wednesday. “My assignment is to confidentially contact people to find out if they have any interest at all. If there is interest I can serve as a conduit between the director and prospective candidate to provide information both ways.”

So did Maryland get a steal? We will see. Durkin is a first-time head coach and there is much work to be done in a competitive division. For a first-year head coach, Maryland may have gotten a good deal on the consulting fee, but there is so much unknown with the final result that can only be answered in time.

Suspended Maryland RB Wes Brown returns for spring football

AP Photo/York Daily Record, Chris Dunn

Maryland opened its first spring under the leadership of new head coach DJ Durkin this week, and running back Wes Brown was on the practice field and on the spring roster. This is the first time Brown has been seen with the team since being suspended indefinitely by the program last November.

Durkin did not address the return of Brown, according to Daniel Martin of CSN Baltimore. Perhaps Durkin has given the team a clean slate as he comes in to lead the program, which is common for new head coaches (Iowa State’s Matt Campbell is doing this).

Brown was suspended by interim head coach Mike Locksley in mid-November for violating the student-athlete code of conduct. It was the second time Brown had been suspended by the program. Brown previously missed the spring football practice schedule a year ago as he was recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum at the end of the 2014 season. Brown missed the 2013 season as a result of an off-field legal situation that eventually led to charges being dropped and Brown being readmitted to the university.

Maryland lands twin brothers in Class of 2016

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Maryland may have been hit hard by some recent recruiting developments in the weeks leading up to National Signing Day (Feb. 3), but on Saturday the Terrapins had one of the more interesting recruiting wins this season. Twin brothers Elijah Daniels and Elisha Daniels committed to the Terrapins on Saturday.

Adding to the double-mint fun, both brothers play cornerback and both decommitted from Minnesota earlier this month. Elijah is a three-star prospect according to Rivals. Guess what. So is his brother! The brothers from Fort Lauderdale, Florida ended up choosing Maryland over Minnesota, but two other Power 5 programs extended offers too; Boston College and Iowa State.

The addition of the twin brothers will provide some immediate depth at a position of need for Maryland in 2016. The Terrapins must replace three starters in the defensive backfield, but they do return Will Likely in the fall.

For new head coach DJ Durkin, the first recruiting class being assembled under his watch is already showing signs of planting seeds in the south. With the addition of Elijah and Elisha Daniels to Maryland’s Class of 2016, the last four recruits to hop on the Maryland train hail from the state of Florida, as noted by Daniel Martin of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Running back LaDerrien Wilson and Aaron Thompson also have committed to Maryland this week.