Report: Maryland Warned About 'Psychopath' D.J. Durkin's Alleged Abuse in Letter

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2018

MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 21:  Head Coach DJ Durkin of the Maryland Terrapins runs onto the field before the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin.  (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
G Fiume/Getty Images

The mother of a former Maryland Terrapins football player described head coach D.J. Durkin as "a psychopath who thinks he is more powerful than God" in a December 2016 letter written to university officials, the Washington Post's Rick Maese and Roman Stubbs reported.

Maryland placed Durkin on administrative leave in August, two months after offensive lineman Jordan McNair died as the result of a heatstroke he suffered during an offseason team workout in May.

Maryland's decision to place Durkin on leave also came after a report from ESPN's Heather Dinich, Adam Rittenberg and Tom VanHaaren that detailed "a toxic coaching culture" within the football program.

Dinich, Rittenberg and VanHaaren spoke to current and former Terrapins players and other team officials, some of whom said Maryland coaches subjected players to "extreme verbal abuse."

The letter shared with Maese and Stubbs echoed similar concerns years before.

"Are any of you aware or do you even care about the number of student athletes suffering from severe emotional distress because of the abusive actions of Coach Durkin?" the mother wrote to Maryland. "His actions are extreme and outrageous; intentional and reckless, and the sole cause of the emotional distress."

Maryland President Wallace D. Loh held a press conference in August to say the university accepted "legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes" that preceded McNair's death.

Maryland's Board of Regents released the reports of an independent investigation into the matter in September. According to USA Today's A.J. Perez, McNair remained on the field for 34 minutes after showing signs of a possible heatstroke before he was escorted to team facilities for further examination.

Maryland has dismissed strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who was mentioned multiple times in the ESPN report. In one instance, Court allegedly forced an injured player to compete one-handed against the defensive back unit in tug-of-war.

Dinich, Rittenberg and VanHaaren's sources described Durkin and Court as "aligned in all elements surrounding workouts and strength training."

Maryland has yet to make an official ruling about Durkin's future at the school.


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