Prince George's County emergency dispatcher just before 6 p.m. May 29, 2018. (Baltimore Sun video)
First-year Maryland athletic director Damon Evans, who helped oversee the coaching search that led to DJ Durkin’s hiring and recently served as the administration’s football program liaison, wrote in a letter to the university community early Saturday morning that he was “committed to swiftly examining and addressing” a “troubling” ESPN report.
Evans said in the signed letter that the ESPN story “contains troubling allegations about our football program,” but did not detail the allegations or specify to which report he was referring.
The first story cited anonymous sources on the football team who said Terps offensive lineman Jordan McNair (McDonogh) had difficulty completing the May 29 workout that left him hospitalized. McNair died June 13, and an external review was launched soon thereafter.
At a June 26 news conference where Evans was introduced as the head of the athletic department — he had served in the role on an interim basis since former athletic director Kevin Anderson went on a six-month sabbatical in October — Evans said the team had just lost a “member of our family.” He added: “Let us not forget Jordan McNair, because he will forever be a part of who we are.”
The second ESPN story published Friday was more explosive. In it, anonymous and on-the-record sources with knowledge of the program, including current and former players and staffers, said Durkin oversaw a program with a culture beset by bullying and humiliation.
“I have been clear in the values that should define everything we do, and these reports are not reflective of the culture we seek to build here,” Evans said in the letter. “I am committed to swiftly examining and addressing any reports brought to our attention.”
Evans noted that the university has placed members of the athletic department on administrative leave, as first reported by The Baltimore Sun, pending the results of an external review into McNair’s death. Walters Inc., a sports medicine consulting group led by Dr. Rod Walters, a South Carolina-based former college athletic trainer, is expected to complete its investigation of Maryland’s protocols and procedures by Sept. 15.
Walters is “continuing his work to finish this investigation,” wrote Evans, who added that he himself will be able to comment “in greater detail at the appropriate time.”
Maryland placed unnamed staff members on administrative leave, but leaves third-year coach DJ Durkin in charge of the team as the external review of the circumstances surrounding Jordan McNair's death continues.
Evans was hired in November 2014 as Maryland’s senior associate athletic director and chief financial officer, his first post since leaving his job as Georgia athletic director in 2010 amid scandal. Just over a year later, at Durkin’s December 2015 introductory news conference, the new coach thanked Evans and others involved with the Terps program’s coaching search “for this incredible opportunity.”
Evans, who played football at Georgia, has remained involved with the program since Durkin’s takeover. He has served as the administrative liaison for the team and as a point man on the ongoing renovations of Cole Field House, among other capital projects.