College Park- With nine days until the opening kickoff at FedExField, the Maryland Terrapins’ Football team finds themselves in the midst of the biggest investigation in Maryland Football history.
Let’s review the tragic events that have occurred:
May 29th- Maryland offensive lineman, 19-year-old Jordan McNair, collapsed during a conditioning workout. McNair was said to be showing signs of extreme exhaustion during 110-yard sprints. At a local hospital, McNair’s body was found to have a temperature of 106-degrees. McNair died 15-days later on June 13th. His death has created intense scrutiny in the Maryland Football organization.
June 14th- Maryland held a press conference with interim athletic director Damon Evans and Head Coach DJ Durkin. Evans detailed a timeline of events that led to McNair’s consequent collapse and eventual hospitalization. Evans announced that an external investigation would take place. Maryland hired Rod Walters, a sports medicine consultant, to lead an external investigation in the death of McNair.
August 10th- ESPN releases an article reporting a toxic coaching culture under coach Durkin and strength and conditioning coach Rick Court. The articles report an environment rooted with bullying and humiliation.
“Multiple sources close to the program describe past behavior of intimidation, humiliation and verbal abuse that created a culture of fear for the players. The sources also reveal allegations of unhealthy eating habits and using food punitively against the players.”
Maryland quickly announced that four staff members would be placed on administrative leave. Head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall, as well as coach DJ Durkin and Court were all placed on administrative leave. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada will serve as interim head coach in Durkin’s absence.
University President Wallace D. Loh released a twitter statement on August 11th.
August 14th- President Loh Evans hold a press conference to announce initial report findings from the McNair investigation. Evans announced that the three staffers – Robinson, Nordwall – as well as coach Durkin would remain on administrative leave. He also shared that Court resigned. President Loh stated the following:
“The university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made.”
“Some of our policies and protocols do not conform to best practices. Some of the actions of our athletic training staff, not the coaching staff, [but] our athletic training staff – they basically misdiagnosed the situation. No vital signs were taken; other safeguard actions that should have been taken were not. For me, that was enough to say I need to come and personally apologize.”
“We will do everything possible that the situation that Jordan McNair found himself in will never happen again,”
The full report on the McNair investigation is set to be released on September 15th.
Where does the team currently stand? The Terps are now led by offensive coordinator Matt Canada in Durkin’s absence. In Canada’s first few statements, he addressed player safety and expressed that the individual safety of each player is top priority. Canada inherits a program in absolute shambles, and group of grieving players. Canada certainly has his work cut out for him as the season opens September 1st against the Texas Longhorns, a team with high expectations who the Terps throttled last season 51-41.
Image Credit: Sports Illustrated