Maryland Athletics Staffers on Leave After Football Player Dies

August 13, 2018

Multiple members of the University of Maryland at College Park athletics staff have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an external review of the death of Jordan McNair, a Maryland football player. The university has not released a full list of names of those on leave, but Head Coach DJ Durkin is one of them, The Washington Post reported.

McNair died June 13 after suffering heatstroke during a May 29 practice. He had trouble recovering from 10 110-yard sprints and had a seizure around 5 p.m. that day, 45 minutes into the workout. He was transported to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he remained until his death.

In a letter to university staff, boosters and supporters obtained by The Washington Post, Damon Evans, the university's athletic director, said that he was "concerned by the allegations of unacceptable behaviors by members of our football staff detailed in recent media reports."

Multiple people "familiar with the situation" confirmed to the Post that Rick Court, the strength and conditioning coach, Wes Robinson, an athletic trainer, and Steve Nordwall, an assistant athletic director for training, have also been placed on leave.

Anonymous current and former players and staff have opened up to ESPN about what they call a toxic culture at Maryland football, developed under Durkin and carried out by Court. They recounted many stories of humiliation, including a time when a player was forced to eat candy bars while his teammates worked out to embarrass him into losing weight. They said extreme verbal abuse was common, especially to players who struggled in workouts or who were injured. Sometimes, Court would throw small weights and other objects in the direction of the players when he was angry. One former Maryland staff member told ESPN, "I would never, ever, ever allow my child to be coached there."

The University of Maryland declined to comment to ESPN on the culture of Maryland football, except to say that members of the athletics staff had been placed on leave.

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