A second investigation launched after the death of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair earlier this year concluded that the program led by head coach DJ Durkin did not have a “toxic culture,” although the report detailed many disturbing findings.
The investigation, like the one that examined the events surrounding McNair’s death released last month, was overseen by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and was shared with board earlier this week. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the report, which has not been released by the Board of Regents publicly as of Thursday afternoon.
“Toxic means ‘extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful,’” investigators wrote near the end of the nearly 200-page report. “By definition, Maryland’s football culture was not toxic. There was no uniform rejection of Maryland’s coaching staff, and no uniform rejection of the treatment of players, by any of the groups of stakeholders interviewed by this Commission.”
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McNair fell ill due to heat illness during a May 29 practice, which last month’s report said was due to a series of failures by medical personnel to detect and immediately treat McNair. He died on June 13, brining increased scrutiny to the program.
Durkin was suspended and strength and conditioning coach Rick Court was suspended in August after ESPN reported the the two had created a “environment based on fear and humiliation.” Court, Durkin’s first hire as head coach, resigned in August.
The report made no recommendation on the future of Durkin, who remains on paid leave. A message left with a spokesperson with the Board of Regents by USA TODAY Sports on Thursday was not immediately returned.
Much of the report which the Board of Regents was shown in recent days details some of Court’s tactics, which included “excessive profanity” and “fat-shaming” along with questionable workouts under his watch.
“Frustrations were shared about the intensity and length of practices and workouts, insufficient recovery time, and the aforementioned issues with Mr. Court,” investigators wrote. “While many acknowledged Mr. Durkin is a fiery and effective motivator and communicator, they felt he could better inspire players if he made a greater effort to listen to their concerns.
“Mr. Durkin advertised an 'open door' policy, but many players and assistants felt this did not extend to those whose opinions did not align with Mr. Durkin’s.”
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