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Letter from high-level Maryland donors defends football coach DJ Durkin

This is the Maryland Minute, a short story followed by a roundup of Terps-related news.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Members of Maryland’s “Champions Club,” a group of high-level donors to the university and athletic department, sent a letter to the Board of Regents that vouched for current head football coach DJ Durkin.

The letter said the group takes “great issue” with Maryland being labeled as a “toxic environment.” Here’s part of the letter, which was obtained by The Baltimore Sun’s Don Markus and FOX 5.

“We take great issue with the Maryland football program under Coach Durkin being labeled as any type of ‘toxic environment’. Many of us have had the opportunity to regularly attend numerous football practices, team workouts, team dinners and team events, to travel with the team for away football games and be on the sideline for home football games. Others have sponsored and interacted repeatedly with football players that greatly respect DJ Durkin. We have all been witnesses to the exact opposite of a toxic environment.

“What we have witnessed is the exact opposite of any toxic environment. What we have witnessed is a coach and coaching staff deeply committed to obtaining excellence from every player on the field, in the classroom and in life. We saw an excellent father, husband, and coach in DJ Durkin who cares just as deeply for the well-being of every player entrusted to his care as he does for his own children. We can assure you that if any of us, at any time, had ever seen any type of toxic environment surrounding the program, we would have immediately ceased to support that football program. We haven’t. We firmly believe that Maryland will never find a coach who is better for this school and for his players than DJ Durkin.”

According to Markus, the letter was hand-delivered to the Board of Regents, as well as Governor Larry Hogan. Thirteen members of the Champions Club, which according to Markus is usually about 15 to 17 members, as well as eight current or former presidents of the Terrapin Club, signed the letter.

Longtime members Barry Gossett and Don Scheeler did not sign the letter due to conflicts of interest. Gossett is on the Board of Regents and Scheeler’s brother is on the eight-person commission that’s investigating the culture of the football program.

The Board of Regents met Thursday morning to receive updates on that investigation and the one into Jordan McNair’s death. Those updates have not yet been made public.

Durkin has been on administrative leave since Aug. 11, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada is serving as interim head coach in his place. Maryland opens its season tomorrow at FedEx Field against No. 23 Texas.

In other news

FedEx Field’s end zone look a little more like Maryland Stadium now. For some reason, midfield does not.

Matt Canada is relying on his experience coaching amid tragedies, from The Baltimore Sun.

Here’s The Washington Post’s Jerry Brewer on how Maryland football season’s will be “strange and polarizing and emotional.”

Former Maryland linebacker D’Qwell Jackson thinks college football workouts should be more regulated, from PressBox.

Another former Terp, Lamont Jordan, will replace Tim Strachan as Maryland football’s radio analyst.

Be sure to listen to our season preview podcast.

In non-football news

Maryland field hockey’s Bodil Keus was stuck in Amsterdam for part of the team’s opening weekend after her losing her passport and visa, from The Diamondback.

Maryland men’s soccer takes on three-time defending national champion Stanford tonight. Here’s our preview. It’s a game head coach Sasho Cirovski calls “extremely significant,” writes PressBox’s Luke Jackson.