COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A two-month investigation into allegations of abuse within Maryland’s football program found there was not a “toxic culture” under coach DJ Durkin, but troubling incidents occurred under Durkin’s leadership, according to a copy of the report submitted to the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and obtained Thursday by ESPN.
“The Maryland football team did not have a ‘toxic culture,’ but it did have a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out,” according to the report, which was produced by an eight-person commission and given to the 17-member board of regents last Friday.
According to the report, there were “many occasions” when former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who resigned in August, “engaged in abusive conduct during his tenure at Maryland.” This included hurling homophobic slurs, which Court denied but others confirmed to the committee.
“Mr. Court would attempt to humiliate players in front of their teammates by throwing food, weights, and on one occasion a trash can full of vomit, all behavior unacceptable by any reasonable standard,” the report said.
But the commission found there was “a lack of clarity in Mr. Court’s reporting lines.” Durkin told the commission it was not his responsibility to supervise Court and, even though they worked closely together daily, he “delegated great authority to Mr. Court.”
The commission found that Durkin bears some responsibility for Court’s “unacceptable behavior,” but other factors contributed to the coach not addressing that behavior.
Durkin is currently on administrative leave. The commission did not make any personnel recommendations, but the board may make suggestions to university president Wallace D. Loh, who has the authority to remove or retain employees at the College Park campus.
Loh launched the investigation in August following ESPN’s report of allegations of abuse within Durkin’s program and centering on Court. Maryland also hired Walters Inc. to conduct a separate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair from heatstroke on June 13.
The results of the first investigation, which was released on Sept. 21, said members of the athletic training staff failed to quickly diagnose and properly treat the heatstroke symptoms at a May 29 workout that eventually led to McNair’s death.
On Aug. 14, after ESPN reported McNair had been admitted to a local hospital with a temperature of 106 degrees, Loh revealed preliminary findings from the Walters Inc. report and said, “The university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made.”
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