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Maryland parts ways with strength and conditioning coach Rick Court amid football scandal

Amid reports of a toxic coaching culture, the University of Maryland has parted ways with football strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, athletic director Damon Evans announced at a news conference Tuesday.

The dismissal comes less than a week after school sources told The Baltimore Sun that Court was among four staffers, including coach DJ Durkin, who were placed on administrative leave. The school is awaiting the results of an external review of the protocols and procedures relating to the death of Terps offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who was hospitalized after an offseason workout in late May.

A school spokesman said Court resigned Monday. In a message posted Tuesday on Twitter, he said he was stepping down "to allow the team to heal and move forward." He also wrote that he would cooperate with the university's investigations.

"Jordan McNair's life and death are what we must all remmber to put first as we face the future,” he wrote. “What did we learn? How will we improve? What can we do to pay tribute to Jordan's life? The gravity of the situation has deeply impacted my perspective on 'the why' I am coaching."

University President Wallace D. Loh and Evans met with McNair's parents Tuesday morning in Baltimore to apologize and take “legal and moral responsibility” for the circumstances leading to the football player’s death June 13. Loh and Evans also announced the formation of a national commission looking into the Terps football team’s culture.

On Saturday, Loh announced the school would launch a separate external investigation into the football team’s coaching practices. An ESPN report Friday cited former and current Maryland players, both anonymously and on the record, who criticized Court’s coaching methods.

Former Dunbar standout Malik Jones, who has since transferred to Toledo, said Court would “push [players] to the extreme” on a daily basis.

“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,” Jones told ESPN. “I don't think he was trying to intentionally hit them, but I know for a fact he purposely threw them in their direction."

Other players said Court forced injured players to participate in workouts and was verbally abusive toward them, among other allegations.

Former Maryland captain Roman Braglio acknowledged Court could act “crazy,” telling The Sun he would be “off his rocker” during workouts, but said the ESPN report miscast him as a villain.

“You walk into his office, he’ll help you with anything,” he said. “That dude will take the shirt off his back to help you.”

Court was one of Durkin’s first hires at Maryland after taking over the program in December 2015. The two had last coached together a decade ago at Bowling Green, where Court was an assistant strength and conditioning coach and Durkin an assistant coach.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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