In a letter sent Friday to parents of Maryland football players, coach DJ Durkin acknowledged that a coming ESPN report, published later in the day, “may prompt questions” about the program.
Durkin’s signed letter, provided to The Baltimore Sun by a source close to the program, said: “We do not know the exact details of the article but wanted you to be aware of its pending release.” Ultimately, ESPN published two articles Friday that cast the program in a negative light.
The first, citing anonymous sources on the team, said Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair (McDonogh) had noticeable difficulty completing the May 29 workout that left him hospitalized. McNair, 19, died over two weeks later. The website of a foundation his parents created in his honor said the cause of death was heatstroke.
The second report, citing anonymous and on-the-record sources with knowledge of the program, including current and former players and staffers, characterized the program’s culture under Durkin as one with rampant abuse, name-calling and bullying by staffers.
"The past few months have been very difficult for our program," Durkin wrote in the letter. "Based on feedback from our parent meeting in June, we want to keep the lines of communication open.”
He added later: "Our priority every day is the safety along with the academic, personal and athletic development of your sons. During this time of healing, our focus needs to be on each other and unity within our program."
Durkin wrote that the program is “cooperating fully” with Dr. Rod Walters, whose sports medicine consulting firm the university has hired to investigate the protocols and procedures relating to McNair's death. The external review is expected to be completed by Sept. 15.
Durkin told parents in the letter that he was "available to address any further questions or concerns you may have," and referred those interested in speaking with him to David Wilczewski, the team's director of recruiting operations.