Who's who in the University of Maryland football saga

The University of Maryland’s football program has been under heightened scrutiny since the June death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair and subsequent reports of a “toxic” culture within the team. The University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents has overseen a pair of investigations into the football program — one analyzing the athletic department’s procedures and protocols on the day McNair suffered heatstroke, and the other reviewing the team’s culture. There will be a news conference Tuesday to discuss the regents’ initial recommendations and decisions.

Here are the names you need to know.

Jordan McNair

McNair was a 19-year-old offensive lineman for the Terps. A four-star recruit, McNair was the highest-rated Baltimore-area high school player in the Class of 2017. He fielded scholarship offers from scores of football powerhouses, including Alabama and Ohio State. But the Randallstown resident and former McDonogh School standout chose the Terps. He wanted to be close to his family.

At 6 feet 4 and 320 pounds, McNair earned a reputation as a “gentle giant.” At his funeral, he was remembered for his ability to light up any room with his gap-toothed smile.

Wallace Loh

Loh has been university president in College Park since 2010. Along with former athletic director Kevin Anderson, he helped oversee the cutting of seven varsity sports in 2012 and the move from the Atlantic Coast Conference to Big Ten in 2014. Loh has been criticized and praised for publicly announcing Maryland would accept “legal and moral responsibility” for mistakes made on May 29, the day McNair was hospitalized. The commission investigating the football team’s culture partially blamed Loh for dysfunction within the athletics department.

Damon Evans

After resigning as University of Georgia athletic director following his arrest for driving under the influence in 2010, Evans had a difficult time getting back into athletic administration.

Four years after leaving Athens, Anderson brought Evans in as Maryland’s chief financial officer. Evans was promoted to acting AD in October 2017 and was named the permanent AD in June. He was criticized in the commission report looking into allegations of a toxic culture for not properly overseeing football coach DJ Durkin, particularly in his dealings with former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court.

Rick Court

Court was the football team’s former strength and conditioning coach. He resigned in August. Court was at the center of many stories from current and former Terps football players who alleged physical and mental degradation. Court “engaged in abusive conduct during his tenure at Maryland,” according to the investigation into the team’s culture, and would “attempt to humiliate teammates” by throwing food, weights and, once, a trash can full of vomit.

DJ Durkin

Durkin was hired by Anderson in December 2015 after working as a defensive coordinator for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan and coaching under Urban Meyer at Florida. He is a first-time head coach who helped the Terps reach a bowl game in 2016. Durkin compiled a 10-15 record in two seasons before being placed on administrative leave Aug. 11, a day after the school did the same with Court and two others.

According to the commission’s report, Durkin claims it was not his responsibility to supervise Court, although it was Durkin’s decision to hire him. They worked closely together every day, and Durkin delegated many responsibilities to Court. The head coach, the commission found, “bears some responsibility when Mr. Court … exhibits unacceptable behavior.”

James Brady

Brady, the Board of Regents chair, has served on the university system’s governing body since 2015. He was secretary of Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development in the 1990s. He was also the campaign chairman for Gov. Larry Hogan and served as co-chair of the Republican’s transition team. The regents oversaw the two investigations into the football program. Brady has presided over several closed-door meetings in recent weeks to discuss the future of the football program and university leadership.

Barry Gossett

Gossett, the Board of Regents vice-chair, has served on the board since 2007. He has multiple connections to the University of Maryland, College Park, and its football program. Gossett is an alumnus of the school and co-chair of the Fearless Ideas Campaign for the state flagship. Gossett, along with his late wife, Mary, gave $10 million in 2007 to help build the football team house that now bears their name.

Dr. Rod Walters

The South-Carolina based sports medicine consultant was hired to review the athletics department’s protocols and procedures from the day McNair fell ill. Walters’ report found athletics staff made a host of errors May 29, the day McNair suffered heatstroke during practice — including failing to immerse the teenager in cold water, which experts say is in line with best practices and could’ve saved his life.

Wes Robinson & Steve Nordwall

Both men have been on administrative leave since August. Robinson is a longtime football trainer. Nordwall oversees the trainers and strength and conditioning coaches.

The commission report includes troubling stories from anonymous athletes who said Robinson encouraged them to play despite their injuries, or downplayed their pain, and limited their contact with outside doctors. They accused Robinson of assuming players were “faking” their injuries. One staff member noted that some players who have been on the team for years believe Robinson changed his style “to match the intense styles of Mr. Durkin and Mr. Court when they arrived.” The report also includes positive reviews of Robinson from people who believe he was being "unfairly scapegoated."

The report found there was “discord” between Nordwall and the people he supervised — along with tensions with Nordwall’s own supervisor. He ended up “effectively unsupervised for an extended duration,” the report found.

Kevin Anderson

Anderson is the university’s former athletic director who came to Maryland from Army West Point shortly after Loh arrived from Iowa. He took a lot of heat for the firing of popular alum and football coach Ralph Friedgen after he won ACC Coach of the Year in 2010. Anderson was put on a six-month sabbatical in October 2017 and never returned.

He was criticized in the commission report for not monitoring Durkin in his first season and not checking to make sure Evans, then the senior staff member in charge of football, was monitoring Durkin and Court.

In a statement to the commission looking into allegations of a toxic culture surrounding the Maryland football program, Anderson said the turmoil within his department after he went on sabbatical led to McNair’s death.

Billy Murphy

Baltimore lawyer whose firm is representing McNair’s family. The firm sent a notice in September to state officials signaling they might sue. The largely procedural step is required by law as a condition of filing suit later. It doesn’t guarantee a lawsuit will be filed, but keeps the family’s options open. Murphy, Falcon & Murphy also represented the family of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Baltimore man who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody in 2015. The family received a $6.4 million settlement from the city without filing a lawsuit.

Bob Ehrlich

Former Republican Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich was part of the commission tasked with investigating the football culture at the state’s flagship. He was joined on the commission by retired U.S. District Court judges Ben Legg and Alex Williams, attorney Charlie Scheeler, former Congressman Tom McMillen, Washington Redskins senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams, longtime sports journalist Bonnie Bernstein and Dr. Frederick M. Azar, the director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship program in the University of Tennessee‐Campbell Clinic.

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