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Maryland punter says he was injured in practice altercation after Durkin's brief reinstatement

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An altercation broke out among multiple Maryland football players at practice on Tuesday, athletic director Damon Evans said on Wednesday night, adding even more controversy to the turmoil surrounding the Maryland football program.

“This is an incredibly difficult time for our football student-athletes,” Evans said in a statement to the Washington Post. “However, we take any matters involving physical altercations extremely seriously. We are talking with the players involved and will take appropriate actions based on the facts.”

Evans and Maryland did not go into much detail about the altercation, which took place just 24 hours before the university fired football coach D.J. Durkin on Wednesday afternoon. Durkin was initially reinstated on Tuesday after an 80-day administrative leave following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and allegations that he was running a “toxic” program, before being fired by school president Wallace Loh a day later.

Punter Matthew Barber was the alleged victim in the altercation. Barber told the Baltimore Sun that he had been outed as someone who revealed the myriad problems within Maryland’s football program. Players then went after him for that, he said. From the Sun:

Barber, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., said word had gotten around on the team that he is a “whistle-blower” who talked to investigators about problems on the team. When Durkin returned to practice Tuesday to watch the team practice, his supporters on the team felt emboldened and began taunting Barber, he said. Some mocked and insulted him, while others threw footballs at him, Barber said.

Toward the end of the practice, another player attacked Barber, attempting to punch him in the face, Barber said. While the two teammates were fighting, others tried to intervene and grabbed Barber’s arms behind his back, he said. That allowed the other player to punch Barber repeatedly in the face, leaving him with a black eye, needing multiple stitches on his forehead and a dislocated shoulder, Barber said.

Barber said he had blood all over his hands after the incident. The accused player is allegedly Wade Lee and Lee denied Barber’s account on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

Another player called Barber’s story a lie.

While the football program — and the university — has a lot to fix amid the turmoil already swirling around Maryland in recent months, adding an alleged fight between players at practice to the mix certainly isn’t going to make things easier.

Multiple Maryland football players were reportedly involved in an altercation at practice on Tuesday amid the chaos surrounding the football program and its former head coach D.J. Durkin, who was fired on Wednesday. (AP)
Multiple Maryland football players were reportedly involved in an altercation at practice on Tuesday amid the chaos surrounding the football program and its former head coach D.J. Durkin, who was fired on Wednesday. (AP)

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