Maryland report says football problems 'festered because too many players feared speaking out'

Yahoo Sports
D.J. Durkin has been on leave for the entire 2018 season. (Getty)
D.J. Durkin has been on leave for the entire 2018 season. (Getty)

The report from the investigation into Maryland’s football program is not kind to coach D.J. Durkin or the team’s former strength coach. It, however, does not make a recommendation about Durkin’s future as Maryland’s head coach.

The Washington Post obtained a copy of the report that was presented to members of Maryland’s board of regents. The report was generated after an independent investigation into the program following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and reports that the football program had a toxic culture under Durkin.

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The report does not use the word toxic, according to the Post, and concludes that Durkin had a “genuine” concern for the welfare of his players. It does, however, say that Maryland “lacked a culture of accountability, did not provide adequate oversight of the football program, and failed to provide Mr. Durkin with the tools, resources, and guidance necessary to support and educate a first-time head coach in a major football conference.” Durkin’s tenure at Maryland was his first as a major college football head coach.

You can read the full report here.

Durkin is currently on leave as he has been for the entirety of the season. The team’s interim coach is offensive coordinator Matt Canada. McNair’s family has spoken out against Durkin and said “of course” the coach should be fired. McNair died of heat stroke after he collapsed during conditioning drills in May. An investigation into the way Maryland staffers responded after McNair’s issues said that Maryland acted inadequately.

Fired strength coach Rick Court is a central figure in the report. He was fired in August as Maryland said it accepted responsibility for what happened in May.

Court “was effectively accountable to no one,” the report states, and never received a performance review. The commission met with Court and his attorney three times during its investigation and ultimately found that Court “on too many occasions, acted in a manner inconsistent with the University’s values and basic principles of respect for others,” according to the report.

“This included challenging a player’s manhood and hurling homophobic slurs (which Mr. Court denies but was recounted by many). Additionally, Mr. Court would attempt to humiliate players in front of their teammates by throwing food, weights, and on one occasion a trash can full of vomit, all behavior unacceptable by any reasonable standard. These actions failed the student-athletes he claimed to serve,” the report states. At another point, investigators wrote: “There were many occasions when Mr. Court engaged in abusive conduct during his tenure at Maryland, as we document. While some interviewees dismissed this as a motivational tactic, there is a clear line Mr. Court regularly crossed, when his words became ‘attacking’ in nature.”

Court is accused of choking a player with a lat pulldown bar in the report and the report notes that there were 28 mentions of him throwing equipment in anger in the weight room.

Investigators interviewed over 160 people for the report including over 50 former players, two dozen parents and over 50 current and former members of the athletic department.

Maryland’s board is expected to meet again Thursday afternoon regarding the report and could issue its own recommendation regarding the future of Durkin and/or other members of the athletic department in the near future.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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