In the aftermath of Jordan McNair’s death, which came as a result of the heatstroke he suffered at a Maryland football workout, several University of Maryland system employees have been dismissed or resigned, including head coach DJ Durkin and James T. Brady, the board of regents chairman.
The fallout may not be over. Amid student protests across campus and intense public criticism, Maryland is facing pressure to completely overhaul its administration.
Sporting News compiled a list of Maryland officials, coaches and training staff who have left the school as a result of McNair’s death, and who could go next.
STEELE: DJ Durkin disaster reminds Maryland that Big Ten is too big for it
Why was DJ Durkin fired?
Durkin was placed on administrative leave soon after the ESPN report, but he then faced calls from McNair’s parents to be fired.
Durkin attended the workout where Jordan McNair suffered heatstroke — overseeing alleged miscalculations and abusive behavior from trainers — and was also the one to bring Rick Court to Maryland. He notably told investigators he witnessed some of Court’s verbal abuse but believed Court never crossed a line.
The independent commission into the team’s culture stated “both Mr. Durkin and leadership in the athletics department share responsibility for the failure to supervise Mr. Court.”
Still, the Maryland Board of Regents recommended university president Wallace Loh retain Durkin following the commission’s findings, a suggestion Loh initially heeded.
After strong public backlash to that decision, the school dismissed Durkin on Oct. 31. It now owes him $5.1 million.
TIMELINE: Explaining the events that led to DJ Durkin’s firing at Maryland
Other Maryland officials fired, resigned
Rick Court (strength and conditioning coach)
Court was the first member of Maryland’s staff to depart, resigning Aug. 13 after an ESPN report implicated him as a key part of the football team’s abusive culture. A later report by an independent commission backed up the initial report with further details on Court’s inappropriate training methods.
In an anonymous survey of players done by the independent commission, Court received an average 2.3 out of 5 evaluation rating, which was markedly lower than the average 4.2 rating given to assistant coaches at 32 other institutions.
The independent report contains allegations Court threw items around the weight room, knocked food out of a player’s hands as a method of humiliation and used verbal abuse that included homophobic slurs toward players.
STEELE: Maryland late doing the right thing with DJ Durkin, so it’s still wrong
He was not found to be at fault for McNair’s death.
As part of a settlement, Maryland agreed to pay Court a $315,000 lump sum and absolved him of any legal liability, according to Yahoo Sports reporter Pete Thamel.
As many of you know, I resigned yesterday as the head strength coach 4 @TerpsFootball. I wanted 2 thank Coach Durkin & all of my colleagues & players for their support, love & commitment. I am blessed for the relationships I have built and wish nothing but success for our team. pic.twitter.com/llT2HABKUC
James Brady (board of regents chairman)
Brady led the board’s controversial recommendation to retain DJ Durkin, and he also reportedly asked Wallace Loh to retain the trainers who misdiagnosed and mishandled Jordan McNair’s heatstroke, contributing to his death.
Facing public outrage for his handling of the commission’s report and recommendation, Brady resigned Nov. 1, writing in a statement he believed his “continued presence on the board will inhibit its ability to move Maryland’s higher education agenda forward.”
STEELE: No accountability, only shame at Maryland
On administrative leave
Steve Nordwall (assistant AD of athletic training) and Wes Robinson (head football trainer)
Nordwall and Robinson were placed on leave after Walter Inc. completed a report into the death of Jordan McNair, which found Nordwall and Robinson did not immediately recognize the severity of McNair’s condition and did not implement a cold water immersion treatment that likely would have saved his life.
Robinson allegedly yelled, “Drag his ass across the field” as McNair showed clear signs of medical crisis.
Nordwall and Robinson have been on administrative leave since August. The board of regents reportedly recommended Maryland retain the duo, but no decision has been announced.
Others in question
Wallace Loh (university president)
Current status: Announced he’ll retire in June 2019
Loh has been a hugely controversial figure at Maryland even before the death of Jordan McNair, and his leadership this past summer has been further criticized.
As detailed in a Sporting News report, Maryland has endured numerous racist incidents — including an alleged hate crime stabbing — under Loh’s watch that have caused large segments of the student population feel unsafe. Several student leaders told Sporting News that Loh did not react quickly or comprehensively to those previous incidents, which put his handling of the football program and McNair’s death under close scrutiny.
The independent commission found the school’s administration bears “some responsibility” for ongoing dysfunction in the athletic department.
The Washington Post reported Loh received an anonymous letter from a concerned parent about the football team’s abusive culture in 2016. The Post also reported Loh shut down a proposed overhaul of the athletic department’s medical structure the year before McNair’s death.
Loh reportedly wanted to fire Durkin right after the completion of the independent commission’s report, but the regents wanted to retain the coach and made it clear to Loh he needed to reinstate Durkin in order to keep his own job. (The regents only have the power to dismiss Loh; all other personnel decisions are delegated to Loh).
Rather than taking a stand against the regents, Loh followed their recommendation before reversing course under public criticism.
SportsCenter anchor and prominent Maryland alum Scott Van Pelt has called for Loh to leave immediately, joining a subset of the student body that has asking for the same outcome.
“It seems like everyone went into cover-your-own-ass mode and the worst type of crab-in-a-bucket behavior imaginable,” Van Pelt said on ESPN. “My question is given their roles in this, how can Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans remain? It feels as if there has to be a complete cultural reset.”
But the provost and every academic dean on Nov. 2 signed a letter asking Loh to not retire and instead continue his presidency indefinitely.
The provost and every single academic dean signed onto this letter, which was just sent to the entire campus. It absolutely slams the Board of Regents and implores Loh to reconsider his retirement. pic.twitter.com/AARmDc1PS2
Damon Evans (athletic director)
Current status: Has not faced any formal repercussions
Before becoming the athletic director in the spring, Evans helped oversee the football program in an administrative role. Along with Wallace Loh, has served as a public face for Maryland throughout the Jordan McNair investigation, speaking to the media at multiple press conferences.
Evans left his previous post at the University of Georgia on bad terms, having been arrested for a DUI, caught apparently having an affair with a woman and trying to bribe an officer.
Evans, who is still married with two children, faced allegations of an improper relationship with a subordinate at Maryland. He was cleared by a university inquiry and maintains his innocence, though several members of the athletic department said the situation disrupted their work.
This story will be updated if any additional personnel moves are made.
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