The University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents released the findings from one investigation into the death of Jordan McNair on Friday. That report almost completely ignored head football coach DJ Durkin, who was at the practice where McNair collapsed.
Durkin was placed on administrative leave by either university president Wallace Loh or athletic director Damon Evans one day after ESPN published a report alleging an abusive coaching environment under his watch (more on that below). Durkin hasn’t made any public statements since, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada has served as acting head coach in the interim.
Durkin doesn’t just slide back in as Maryland’s head coach now, though.
There’s another investigation into Maryland football that we haven’t seen the findings from yet. The findings from the Walters investigation clear up the issue of who Maryland deems responsible specifically for Jordan McNair’s death. The investigation that hasn’t wrapped up yet deals with allegations from an ESPN story published in mid-August that detailed troubling behavior by Maryland’s coaches.
Board president James Brady said the investigation into the football program’s culture will be complete “pretty soon,” while chancellor Robert L. Caret said at the public portion of the meeting that the review could be complete by the end of the month.
Loyal readers of this website have undoubtedly seen this repeated ad nauseam, but for those who haven’t, this is how ESPN’s story sums the accusations up:
-There is a coaching environment based on fear and intimidation. In one example, a player holding a meal while in a meeting had the meal slapped out of his hands in front of the team. At other times, small weights and other objects were thrown in the direction of players when [strength coach Rick] Court was angry.
-The belittling, humiliation and embarrassment of players is common. In one example, a player whom coaches wanted to lose weight was forced to eat candy bars as he was made to watch teammates working out.
-Extreme verbal abuse of players occurs often. Players are routinely the targets of obscenity-laced epithets meant to mock their masculinity when they are unable to complete a workout or weight lift, for example. One player was belittled verbally after passing out during a drill.
-Coaches have endorsed unhealthy eating habits and used food punitively; for example, a player said he was forced to overeat or eat to the point of vomiting.
Until the second investigation concludes, Durkin likely remains in limbo.
The panel conducting this investigation consists of eight members, most of whom have connections to the university or the state of Maryland.
We don’t know exactly how this investigation is going, or what moves might happen as a result. Are Caret’s comments to the Washington Business Journal telling? No clue. Might as well bookmark ‘em for later, though:
I’ll say this openly: If all the studies show [Durkin] did nothing wrong, he should go back to coaching as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think you sacrifice someone if he wasn’t responsible. Now you could say the student died under his watch so he was responsible regardless of how it was handled. I mean, that’s one point of view and that might prevail. I don’t know. We definitely want to give all of the people involved a fair and open view based on where the facts are.
Until the results of Investigation No. 2 come back, Canada will be on the sidelines leading the team. And based on the lack of leaks during the Walters investigation, we might not find out anything about this second investigation until close to its release.