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Maryland 'Parts Ways' With Strength Coach

August 15, 2018
 
 

A University of Maryland at College Park football strength and conditioning coach, and one of the athletics staffers accused of perpetuating an abusive culture in the program, has resigned. 

The move comes two months after a freshman football player died following his collapse during sprint workouts.

Athletics Director Damon Evans announced Tuesday at a news conference that the university had “parted ways” with Rick Court, who had been named in an ESPN report detailing a “toxic” culture in Maryland football. Court will receive a six-figure settlement from Maryland. Yahoo, citing a source close to the settlement, reported that he would be paid $315,000.

Court posted a statement to Twitter: "The football student-athletes' mental and physical health remain my number one priority," he wrote. "Thus I am stepping down to allow the team to heal and move forward."

Head Coach DJ Durkin and other staffers were placed on leave after the ESPN story appeared Friday.

Current and former players and staffers alleged that Court, Durkin and others were verbally abusive and intimidating -- players reported having small weights thrown at them, and one player said he was made to eat until he vomited.

At the news conference, Maryland president Wallace Loh said the institution learned about these allegations from the media. The ESPN story came after the death in June of 19-year-old Terps offensive lineman Jordan McNair, reportedly from heatstroke after a workout in May.

Athletic staffers “misdiagnosed” McNair’s symptoms and did not treat him for heat-related illness at the time, officials said at the press conference. Staffers did not take McNair’s temperature or give him a cold-compress bath.

An attorney representing McNair's family has said Durkin should be fired “immediately” for his role in overseeing the workout. Baltimore attorney William H. Murphy Jr., who also represented the family of Freddie Gray, on Sunday said Durkin and his coaching staff showed “complete indifference” to McNair's struggles to complete sprints at the May 29 practice, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Loh said the university takes “legal and moral” responsibility for the mistakes made by athletics training staffers. He said university officials met with McNair’s family to apologize and committed to never putting another athlete at risk. He also announced a new, four-person independent commission charged with investigating the football program.

“You can motivate people, push them to the limit, without engaging in bullying behavior,” Loh said.

Maryland's season begins Sept. 1.

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