The University of Maryland has placed football coach DJ Durkin on paid administrative leave as it investigates allegations of abuse and disparagement in the program and the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.
Athletic director Damon Evans announced the move Saturday, saying offensive coordinator Matt Canada will serve as the team’s interim coach.
“I am extremely concerned by the allegations of unacceptable behaviors by members of our football staff detailed in recent media reports,” Evans wrote in a letter sent to university students, staff and alumni. “We are committed to fully investigating the program. At this time, the best decision for our football program is to place Maryland head football coach DJ Durkin on leave so we can properly review the culture of the program. This is effective immediately. Matt Canada will serve as interim head coach.”
Evans continued: “The external review into the tragic death of Jordan McNair continues, and we have committed to releasing publicly the report being prepared by an independent and national expert. The safety and well-being of our student-athletes is our highest priority. These alleged behaviors are not consistent with the values I expect all of our staff to adhere to and we must do better. You will be hearing from me as our work continues to rebuild the culture of respect in our football program.”
The school on Friday placed head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall on administrative leave, sources told ESPN. Rick Court, Maryland’s assistant athletics director for sports performance, was placed on paid administrative leave Saturday, sources said.
Durkin oversaw Maryland’s practice Saturday morning. ESPN on Friday reported allegations from current and former players, and current and former staff members, of bullying, verbal abuse and humiliation directed at players. ESPN also reported Friday that McNair, 19, died of heatstroke after showing visible signs of distress during a workout May 29. He died June 13.
The Baltimore Sun reported Durkin sent a letter Friday to players’ families informing them of an upcoming ESPN story and asking them to send their concerns to the program.
Durkin, 40, is set to enter his third season as Maryland’s head coach. He’s 10-15 at the school.