Maryland Puts Football Head Coach Durkin on Leave Amid Investigation


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.

Maryland has also placed two athletic training staffers it didn’t 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. Mr. McNair’s parents are being represented by Baltimore attorney Bill Murphy, whose firm is also investigating.

In his open letter, Mr. 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.”

“The safety and well-being of our student-athletes is our highest priority,” Mr. Evans wrote. “These alleged behaviors are not consistent with the values I expect all of our staff to adhere to and we must do better.”

Mr. Durkin is starting his third season at Maryland. The 40-year-old former Michigan defensive coordinator is 11-15 in two seasons after receiving a five-year contract worth $12.5 million in December 2015.

Keisha Staples, the mother of junior defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr., told the Associated Press she is close with a group of about eight players’ parents who would like to meet with Evans and school officials to voice their “full support” for Mr. Durkin.

Mr. Brooks was part of Mr. Durkin’s first recruiting class in 2016.

“I’m sure not everybody has had the same experience we’ve had, but we have had a good experience,” Ms. Staples said.

“I don’t want the stigma to be at Maryland this is a toxic culture,” Ms. Staples said. “This is a football culture.”



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