Mary­land places head coach Durkin on leave

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo

Mary­land placed head coach DJ Durkin on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave Satur­day while the school scru­ti­nizes al­le­ga­tions of poor be­hav­ior by the foot­ball staff, ap­par­ent mis­deeds that came to light fol­low­ing the death of a player.

In an open let­ter, ath­letic di­rec­tor Da­mon Evans wrote: “At this time, the best de­ci­sion for our foot­ball pro­gram is to place Mary­land head foot­ball coach DJ Durkin on leave so we can prop­erly re­view the cul­ture of the pro­gram.”

Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Matt Canada will serve as in­terim coach.

Ear­lier Satur­day, the head of the foot­ball team’s strength and con­di­tion­ing staff was placed on paid leave while the school in­ves­ti­gates claims he ver­bally abused and hu­mil­i­ated play­ers, ac­cord­ing to a per­son briefed on the sit­u­a­tion. The per­son spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause Mary­land had not an­nounced the de­ci­sion re­gard­ing Rick Court.

Mary­land has also placed two ath­letic train­ing staffers it did not iden­tify on leave as it in­ves­ti­gates the death of Jor­dan McNair. The 19-year-old of­fen­sive line­man was hos­pi­tal­ized May 29 af­ter a team work­out and died June 13. Dr. Rod Wal­ters, a for­mer col­lege ath­letic trainer, has been hired by Mary­land to in­ves­ti­gate the cir­cum­stances of the death. A re­port is ex­pected by Sept. 15. McNair’s par­ents are be­ing rep­re­sented by Bal­ti­more at­tor­ney Bill Mur­phy, whose firm is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

In his open let­ter, Evans wrote: “The ex­ter­nal re­view into the tragic death of Jor­dan McNair con­tin­ues, and we have com­mit­ted to re­leas­ing pub­licly the re­port be­ing pre­pared by an in­de­pen­dent and na­tional ex­pert.”

ESPN re­ported that head foot­ball ath­letic trainer Wes Robin­son and di­rec­tor of ath­letic train­ing Steve Nord­wall were placed on leave by Mary­land.

An ESPN story on Fri­day quoted uniden­ti­fied play­ers, for­mer play­ers and for­mer mem­bers of Durkin’s staff, who con­tended Court and Durkin cre­ated a toxic cul­ture within the pro­gram.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS — FILE PHOTO

Mary­land head coach DJ Durkin walks the side­line dur­ing the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl against Bos­ton Col­lege in Detroit. Mary­land placed the head of the team’s strength and con­di­tion­ing staff on paid leave while it in­ves­ti­gates claims he ver­bally abused and hu­mil­i­ated play­ers.

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