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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

ESPN takes aim at ‘toxic culture’ inside Maryland football

DJ Durkin

ESPN has taken aim at Maryland’s football program over what they describe is a “toxic culture” within the Terps.

The media outlet published two stories about the Terrapins’ program on Friday. One story was about the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair following a May 29 workout. The report suggests Maryland showed negligence in McNair’s death, which they say is attributed to heatstroke.

Particular note is made of the timeline of how Maryland addressed McNair’s health struggles while completing a set of 10 110-yard sprints during the workout. An attorney for the McNair family who is investigating the death says that medical records and a 911 call show that McNair had a seizure around 5:00 pm, about 45 minutes into the workout. Despite the alleged seizure, a 911 call was not made until nearly an hour later. McNair was said to have had a temperature of 106 at the hospital.

ESPN placed McNair’s death into a larger context of what they believe is a “toxic culture” within the Terrapins’ football program.

They say that “several current players and people close to the program described a sustained pattern of verbal abuse and intimidation of players.”

Head coach DJ Durkin, who is entering his third season as the team’s head coach, is accused of going unreasonably hard after his players in order to weed out the program once he took over from Randy Edsall. Strength and conditioning coach Rick Court is a major focus of the article, which accuses him of being particularly abusive of players.

“The alleged behaviors raised in the ESPN story are troubling and not consistent with our approach to the coaching and development of our student athletes. Such allegations do not reflect the culture of our program. We are committed to swiftly examining and addressing any such reports when they are brought to our attention,” Maryland said in a statement to ESPN.

Maryland has gone 10-15 in two seasons under Durkin. The 40-year-old coached under Jim Harbaugh at both Stanford and Michigan, as well as Urban Meyer at Bowling Green and Florida.

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