The parents of three current Maryland football players spoke to The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach to express worry at the idea that DJ Durkin might return as the team’s head coach in a story published Tuesday. The story describes the players as “major contributors” for the team.
The parents, who remained anonymous “for fear of retribution for their sons,” told Auerbach they have all spoken to the commission investigating Maryland football’s culture and player treatment under Durkin, but voiced their concerns that the investigation’s outcome is “predetermined.” The reports says they are part of a group of at least six parents who have “banded together” to speak out against the idea of Durkin returning to the program. It’s unclear how many players’ parents hold the same views less vocally.
“We’re terrified,” one of the parents told The Athletic. “We feel like we’re alone. I said to (another parent), ‘Honey, you and I, we are the resistance. This son of a bitch is not coming back.’ I don’t care what we have to do. He’s not coming back to hurt our babies again or anybody else’s baby, period. He will not.”
The response to The Athletic from The University of Maryland System Board of Regents:
“The University System of Maryland Board of Regents in August assumed full authority to appoint an independent commission of experts on college athletics — whose backgrounds include medicine, law, and public service — to review the culture of the University of Maryland, College Park football program thoroughly and independently. The independent commission is committed to being thorough. Given that the board has not yet received the commission’s report, the USM therefore cannot comment at this time on its findings.”
The Washington Post previously mentioned Friday, Oct. 19 as a potential time for the commission investigating the team to present its findings to the Board of Regents, but time is running out for that to happen.
The story mentions a split in the way parents view Durkin, something that’s been mentioned in previous reports. Parents of some players have been all-in on the head coach, saying their sons have not experienced the types of behavior mentioned by players or former players in media reports, while parents of others say their sons have voiced concerns. One of the parents Auerbach interviewed described Durkin as a “narcissistic sociopath,” while the father of running back Lorenzo Harrison told The Washington Post the Durkins are “family to us.”
The parents did say their sons have noticed a drastic change in the environment under interim head coach Matt Canada with Durkin on administrative leave.
“They’re not scared,” one parent told The Athletic. “It’s normal, it’s what they thought they signed up for: football. (My son) said, ‘You still get yelled at, you still get called names, but nobody is abused or degraded or hurt in any way — physically hurt.’ Nobody is scared.”
That would be in line with behavior that’s been reported by ESPN and The Washington Post. Some former players said Durkin and former strength coach Rick Court were degrading in the way they approached certain members of the team.
“(My son) said Canada is like, ‘We’ll go in here, we’re going to get this shit done and then we’re getting the hell home,’” a different parent told The Athletic. “They go in, they do their practices, and they go home. He said there’s no screaming, there’s no yelling, there’s none of that threatening or anything. He said Canada may yell, like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ But he said, ‘He doesn’t get in my face. He doesn’t make me feel worthless.’”