The University of Maryland has reinstated football coach DJ Durkin, who had been on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the death of player Jordan McNair.
The 19-year-old defensive lineman succumbed to heatstroke during a team workout in June. Soon after, media reports alleged an abusive, perhaps dangerous, environment within the program.
On Tuesday, the university system’s board of regents recommended that Durkin be retained after an independent commission found no such “toxic culture.”
Athletic director Damon Evans and university President Wallace D. Loh also kept their jobs, though Loh immediately announced plans to retire at the end of the school year.
At a news conference after the decision was announced, McNair’s father, Martin, said: “I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in my face.”
Even before the commission issued its findings, the university had acknowledged “legal and moral responsibility” for McNair’s death.
The commission report confirmed the incident was marked by numerous mistakes and what officials characterized as “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviors.”
Athletic trainers failed to diagnose and treat symptoms of McNair’s heat-related illness when he struggled to come off the field that day. The team subsequently parted ways with its strength and conditioning coach.
The university has pledged to implement a series of reforms to protect athletes and give them a platform to express concerns.
“As we move forward,” Evans said in a statement, “we will take the appropriate measures to ensure the health and well-being of our student athletes.”
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