Gus Little, E.J. Donahue Reach $200K Settlements in Maryland Football Lawsuit

Adam WellsDecember 18, 2021

CHAMPAIGN, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: A Maryland fiootball helmet on the field as seen during a college football game between the Maryland Terrapins and the University of Illinois Fighting Illini on September 17, 2021, at Memorial Stadium,  Champaign, IL.  (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),
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Two former Maryland football players have reached settlements with the school stemming from their lawsuits accusing former head coach DJ Durkin of subjecting them to an abusive, toxic environment. 

Per the Associated Press, Gus Little and E.J. Donahue received $200,000 each in their settlement agreements with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. 

Durkin was fired by Maryland on Oct. 31, 2018, one day after he was reinstated by the program. 

The Terrapins originally placed Durkin on administrative leave in August 2018 following the release of an ESPN report that contained allegations of a "toxic coaching culture" in the wake of the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair earlier in the year. 

Multiple people connected to the program, including two players on the roster at the time, said in the report there was a "coaching environment based on fear and intimidation" under Durkin. 

Per ESPN's Heather Dinich, McNair "showed signs of extreme exhaustion, had difficulty standing upright while running a set of 110-yard sprints and was found to have a body temperature of 106 degrees at a local hospital before he died of heatstroke suffered during a football workout" in May. 

In September 2018, Little and Donahue were among a group of Maryland players and people connected to the program who told Rick Maese and Roman Stubbs of the Washington Post about their experience with the Maryland football program and Durkin. 

"I don't know if I'll be able to get back to the point that I was before I came to Maryland," Donahue said.

Little said, "I lost my love for the game. It wasn't a game anymore."

Per the AP, Little and Donahue filed a lawsuit against the University of Maryland in August 2019 that alleged the program had a "toxic culture of cruelty, humiliation, (and) degradation."

Durkin, former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court and former head trainer Wes Robinson were named as defendants.

Durkin spent two seasons as Maryland head coach from 2016 to 2018. 

Little and Donahue both attended the university from 2015 to 2016. They transferred to James Madison University prior to the 2017 football season.