Maryland starts its investigation into football coach DJ Durkin’s team culture with the attorney representing the family of deceased lineman Jordan McNair calling for Durkin to be fired.
With 19 days left before Maryland opens the season at home against Texas, here is what you need to know about the accusations against Durkin, who was placed on administrative leave Saturday, and his football program:
McNair family’s voice: Attorney Billy Murphy of Baltimore on Sunday told ESPN that McNair’s June death, due to heatstroke after conditioning drills, could have been prevented. He said the coaching staff showed “absolute indifference” toward McNair’s life.
Murphy gave ESPN three reasons why Durkin, 40, should be fired.
“No. 1, what he did,” Murphy said, “No. 2, what he didn’t do, and No. 3, the impact on this football program.”
McNair, 19, a 325-pound lineman, died June 13, just over two weeks after he had difficulty recovering from multiple 110-yard sprints.
He was hospitalized that night and never recovered. The McNair family announced he died of heatstroke.
Murphy said the family is “leaning” toward filing a civil lawsuit.
The accusations: The decision to place Durkin – and previously at least two other staff members – on administrative leave came the day after ESPN published a report citing past and current players as sources to portray the Maryland football program as being an “environment based on fear and humiliation.”
ESPN reported players were cussed out, belittled, embarrassed or humiliated. It painted a harsh picture of strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who was one of Durkin’s first hires.
It would be difficult for Durkin to say he was unaware of how Court might have run workouts. In a 2017 story in The Washington Post, Durkin said: “To me, if the head coach and the strength coach are not totally in line with one another, there’s something that’s going to miss. Me and Rick are in line.”
Maryland Governor supports decision: Gov. Larry Hogan called the media reports of Durkin’s alleged abuses “deeply troubling.” He said he expected the investigation to be “wide-ranging and thorough.”
Ben Jealous, a Democratic candidate for governor, went further by calling for the immediate suspension of athletic director Damon Evans while the investigation is ongoing.
“The athletics director and head coach are ultimately responsible for ensuring the safety of our student athletes,” Jealous said.