Maryland places head football coach DJ Durkin on leave

Maryland Coach DJ Durkin speaks during last month’s Big Ten Conference media days

UMD Athletics Director Damon Evans announced Coach DJ Durkin was placed on leave on Saturday.

Strength and conditioning coach Rick Court is the most frequently named member of the coaching staff, though head coach D.J. Durkin's name arises as well, and he and Court are described as like-minded.

The Longhorns dropped last year's season opener to Maryland in Austin, 51-41.

ESPN's story Friday detailed a "coaching environment based on fear and intimidation" including "belittling, humiliation and embarrassment of players" at the behest of coaches, and cited anonymous sources.

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald expressed support for Court on Saturday.

May 29, 2018: Offensive lineman Jordan McNair is hospitalized after showing signs of heatstroke and exhaustion while participating in a team workout.

His tragic death stemmed from a workout on an 80-degree day, in which players ran 10 110-yard sprints.

This news comes after players present at the workout told ESPN that McNair could not finish the workout on his own.

After evaluating McNair at the football facilities, EMT responders call in a "male patient with a seizure", and McNair was transported to Washington Adventist Hospital.

He passed away days later, on June 13.

"Jordan was a tremendous athlete, student, teammate and friend, and he will be sorely missed", Executive Athletic Director Damon Evans said in June. Evans announced that an external investigation will be conducted but declined to name the organization that will conduct it. McNair's parents hired a Baltimore law firm to also investigate.

The university commissioned an external review and, "pending the final outcome", has placed some of the staff on leave, said Jessica L. Jennings, director of communications, in a statement.

After the Maryland athletic department placed Durkin on leave Saturday afternoon, Gov. Larry Hogan released a statement in support of the decision.

The ESPN story published Friday quoted unidentified sources saying Court and Durkin created a toxic culture within the Big Ten conference program.

ESPN reported allegations of a "toxic culture" in Maryland's football program that included excessive verbal abuse, a coach purposely throwing small weights in the direction of players and the "punitive" use of food for players who were overweight or underweight. We must do better, and we will rebuild a culture of respect in our football program. Court also worked with Durkin at Bowling Green in 2005 and '06, when Durkin was an assistant.

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