College football: Maryland coach, athletic staff members on leave pending review of player’s death

Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair dies two weeks after collapsing in team workout
Jordan McNair was a star player at McDonogh High in Owings Mill before attending Maryland.
(Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Maryland athletic director Damon Evans says coach DJ Durkin is being placed on leave while the school reviews allegations of “unacceptable behavior by members of our football staff.”

The move comes a day after an ESPN story that quoted unidentified players, former players and former Durkin staff members accusing Durkin and strength and conditioning coach Rick Court of verbally abusing and humiliating players.

Earlier Saturday, a person who had been briefed on the situation told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity that Court had been placed on leave by the school.

The school already is investigating the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who was hospitalized after a team workout on May 29 and died on June 13.


In a statement to the network, Maryland said “the alleged behaviors raised in the ESPN story are troubling and not consistent with our approach to the coaching and development of our student athletes.”

The school said it was committed to “examining and addressing any such reports when they are brought to our attention.”

The school is awaiting the result of school-commissioned external review of the procedures and protocols surrounding athletes’ health and safety.

McNair was hospitalized May 29 after an organized team workout and died on June 13. Attorney for the McNair family, Billy Murphy, criticized how Maryland athletic staff responded to McNair falling ill and told ESPN a lawsuit was likely.


Maryland athletic director Damon Evans said it was around 80 degrees when the workouts began and that the players were told to run 10 110-yard sprints.

Evans said 6-foot-4, 325-pound McNair completed the entire workout but had trouble breathing after he was done. After he was taken to the football team house, paramedics were called.

After his death, the school launched an external review.

The later statement released by the school on said: “Pending the final outcome of this review, the university has placed members of the Athletics staff on administrative leave. We will be able to speak in greater detail when the review is complete and shared with the public. Our thoughts remain with Jordan McNair’s family, friends and teammates.”


Southern Mississippi has suspended quarterback Kwadra Griggs for an undisclosed reason. The school said in a statement Saturday the indefinite suspension will remain “pending resolution of a student conduct matter.” The senior played in 10 games last season, throwing for 1,879 yards, 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He ran for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Southern Miss finished 8-5 last year and opens this season Sept. 1 with a home game against Jackson State.


3:05 p.m.: This report has been updated with news that Maryland coach DJ Durkin has been placed on leave.


This report was originally published at 1:30 p.m.