Maryland football coaches and staffers have overseen a toxic culture rife with abuse, name-calling and bullying, according to an extensive ESPN report.
The story published Friday cites several anonymous former players and staffers who described a program led by coach DJ Durkin and enforced by strength and conditioning coach Rick Court that demeaned and embarrassed team members.
Former Terps defensive lineman Malik Jones, who transferred to Toledo after last season, said Durkin once accused him of “bad-mouthing the program” after the coach was displeased over Jones’ smiling during a team meeting. Jones said Durkin encouraged him to leave the program.
"He basically got in my face, was pointing his finger in my face and calling me explicit names and things of that nature," Jones told ESPN. "I'm not going to let a guy bully me. ... He called me a [expletive] and stuff like that. I'm not going to tolerate that."
Jones also said Court, one of Durkin’s first hires at Maryland, operated the team’s workouts with a “balls to the wall” philosophy.
"Push to the extreme?” Jones told ESPN. “That was an everyday thing. I've seen him get physical with guys sometimes, throw objects at guys sometimes, small weights, anything he had in his hand at the time. I don't think he was trying to intentionally trying to hit them, but I know for a fact he purposely threw them in their direction."
University officials declined to make team officials and school president Wallace D. Loh available for comment on the story.
The report’s release followed Maryland’s announcement earlier Friday that it had placed members of Durkin’s support staff on paid administrative leave based on the initial findings of the external review examining the circumstances leading to the death of redshirt freshman Jordan McNair.
A school spokeswoman declined to name the individuals who were placed on leave, pending the outcome of the review being conducted by Walters Inc., a sports medicine consulting firm. That review is expected to be finished no later than Sept. 15. A source confirmed that Durkin will remain Terps coach.
McNair died June 13, 15 days after having difficulty recovering from an offseason workout. He was 19.