University of Maryland Fires Coach After Player's Death

Durkin was accused of presiding over 'toxic culture'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2018 3:09 AM CDT
University of Maryland Fires Coach After Player's Death
Maryland players gather at a No. 79 painted on the field in remembrance of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who died after collapsing on a practice field during a spring practice, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in College Park, Md.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(Newser) – The University of Maryland has fired a football coach accused of presiding over a "toxic" culture that may have caused a player's death. Jordan McNair, 19, died in June, two weeks after he collapsed with heatstroke during a team practice. Coach DJ Durkin was placed on administrative leave in August following an ESPN report on the "belittling, humiliation, and embarrassment" Terrapins players were subjected to in a "coaching environment based on fear and intimidation." Players said extreme verbal abuse was common and McNair knew he would have his "manhood challenged" if he stopped the workout. University president Wallace Loh announced the firing Wednesday—a day after the university system's Board of Regents decided to reinstate the coach, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The board's decision was protested by numerous campus groups, and Gov. Larry Hogan urged Loh and the board "to reconsider their decisions and to schedule a public hearing to address these issues in an open and transparent manner." A report commissioned by the university after McNair's death found the coaching staff made errors including failing to immerse the player in cold water, which could have saved his life. The Diamondback notes that Durkin repeatedly boasted to the press about scheduling practices during the hottest parts of the day, once saying "the heat makes cowards of us all." Sources tell the Sun that Durkin, the state's second-highest paid employee, will be paid the $5.4 million that remains on his contract. (This high school football player died two days after a collision.)

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