Maryland athletic director Damon Evans appeared before commission investigating football team culture

Maryland athletic director Damon Evans appeared before commission investigating football team culture
Maryland athletic director Damon Evans speaks at a news conference held Aug. 14, 2018, in College Park to address the school's football program and the death of a player who collapsed on a practice field. (Patrick Semansky / AP)

Athletic director Damon Evans recently appeared before a commission investigating the University of Maryland’s football team culture following the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair, according to multiple sources.

The commission, overseen by the Board of Regents, is tasked with examining allegations of a “toxic culture” on the team. The board is scheduled to briefed Friday on the results of the investigation.


The eight-member commission has not disclosed which players, coaches or administrators it has questioned. Evans was an obvious choice because he has been athletic director since June and helped hire football coach DJ Durkin in a previous capacity in 2015.

Evans was asked about the commission during a broad interview Thursday.

“As the athletic director, I'm going to fully cooperate with the commission, which I have,” he said. “It would be inappropriate for me to comment with regard to what's going on at the commission.”

The regents are to meet again in a closed session Tuesday morning in Baltimore to further discuss the investigation results and begin making recommendations.

“It's important that everybody remember that is an independent review board,” Evans said. “From the chair that I sit in, I eagerly await the facts of that commission. We will take the action that is appropriate based on the findings of the commission.”

An ESPN article published in August cites several anonymous former players and staffers who described a program led by Durkin that demeaned and embarrassed team members. The coach has been placed on administrative leave.

The university said it is encouraging participation in the investigation.

“At the request of the Commission, we emailed our parents, players and staff on multiple occasions to provide information about how to participate confidentially and encouraged participation,” an athletics department spokesperson said in an email.

The spokesperson said all parents had the option to meet with the commission in person after a football team parents meeting Aug. 18. “We invited the commission to our most recent parents meeting [Oct. 4] to hear parents’ concerns and questions. We provided the contact information for all of our players and staff since 2015,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the university also organized a team meeting at the commission’s request so members could complete an online survey.

McNair died of heatstroke after falling ill during a summer practice. University president Wallace Loh has publicly said the school takes “legal and moral responsibility” for mistakes in treating McNair, and he brought in an outside consultant to review what happened that day.

The commission includes former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, retired U.S. District Court judges Ben Legg and Alex Williams, and former prosecutor Charles Scheeler.