After Maryland Player’s Death, Coach and Athletic Director Keep Their Jobs

D.J. Durkin will keep his job as Maryland head coach, but President Wallace Loh announced he would retire in June in the wake of Jordan McNair’s death last summer.

Comments: 43

  1. As a Maryland resident, I am very disappointed in this decision. The Regents are clearly putting football above any other consideration - including players' well-being.

  2. There is probably plenty of blame to go around. The Maryland situation should be investigated thoroughly by an independent counsel and the results made public. That said, football is an excessively dangerous sport. All the special protective gear and safety precautions do not seem to eliminate serious injury and even death. It is especially dangerous when big university athletic programs pressure college students beyond human limits to produce results. Universities should take a fresh look at their football programs and ask this question: is our program serving the best interests of our student athletes? Universities have a duty first and foremost to look out for the health, well-being and future of their students.

  3. @Jeffrey Zuckerman "Universities have a duty first and foremost to look out for the health, well-being and future of their students." Don't make me laugh.

  4. I’m disappointed in the action of the board of regents who apparently value money and a coach’s empty rhetoric over both accountability and honor. Shame for Maryland rather than a path toward change.

  5. Kudos to the Maryland football players who spoke out against the Regents' absurd decision and those who, according to The Washington Post, walked out of Durkin's first team meeting following his reinstatement. These players have higher moral values, and greater common sense, than all of the Regents combined. Hopefully Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will remedy this travesty by dismissing the Regents and replacing them with individuals who value human life over saving face, and who believe academics should take precedence over athletics.

  6. It's simple, and distressingly familiar: Maryland wants to have a university the football team can be proud of...

  7. @M Johnston -- Well, it looks as though Durkin is out, after all, so I'll (gladly) withdraw that comment... Still, spare a thought for the young man who did, and for his family, friends, and teammates --

  8. At what price success on the football field? As a Maryland graduate, I feel shame at the absolution of the athletic staff and believe this is a stain on the University that will never be erased. The death of young Jordan McNair is directly attributable to the actions of the coaches, all of whom should have been fired, not placed on leave, if they were present at the training session in question. And any coach not present should also be fired if they regularly conduct similarly sadistic training. Moreover, the abusive session itself and subsequent failure to respond to Jordan’s fatal collapse leading to his death can best be described as criminal and should be investigated by Maryland’s Attorney General. Durkin is responsibility for his coaches’ behavior with regard to training and needs to go. His continued presence brings shame to a school that president Loh has worked very hard to elevate. Yes, monies brought in by collegiate sports are substantial, but not worth the death of a single student. Which young Terrapin athlete will be next?

  9. So this is what constitutes a ‘big-time football program' -- harassment, humiliation, verbal slurs, and death. This is what earns the loyalty and respect of many of Maryland's student athletes and coaches? Really? Add to that the board of regents' abdication of moral responsibility for a death of a young man? What terrific, positive, character-building qualities these 'student-athletes' at Maryland are learning.

  10. Further evidence of the utter corruption of Division 1 college football and the schools that invest in coaches. The story proves how the players - unpaid in a mutli-billion-dollar business - are disposable cogs in a machine, discarded when they are injured - or die. Meanwhile, the coaches with their bloated paychecks demonstrate that taking responsibility is for "the little people" - certainly not something that would apply to them. Only Mr. Loh seems to posses the sense of honor and dignity appropriate to the situation. One more tale in the endless saga of the NCAA's plantation system of exploitation and indifference to players.

  11. @A Let the athletes in gymnastics, baseball, tennis, golf, soccer, swimming, hockey, skiing, figure skating, bowling, etc turn pro whenever they want. Wait, they already can. Well then Its time to call out the NBA players association for what it is. An organization unwilling to give freedom to young black basketball players for one year of their life. This is outrageous. An entire year. Well, actually only 6 months. That leaves the NFL. I don’t see any call from the NFLPA to allow younger players into the league. So what was the problem with college athletics?

  12. In the report it is clearly stated that the coach was did not have administrative experience in a large program. He was not qualified to run a major college program. The college made a mistake in hiring him. The head coach is responsible for his program, he is responsible for the health of his players. I think there should clean out of the whole male athletic department and have 3rd party oversight. Believe me I know football has it hazards but this is close to criminal negligence.

  13. As a Maryland graduate, I’m horrified and ashamed that the coach and athletic staff have not been held accountable for this tragedy. Someone died unnecessarily and it’s business as usual - athletics seems to be the top priority in College Park.

  14. College football is worth billions, BILLIONS in income to everyone involved except of course the players, where the greedy pigs running the game snort about 'keeping the sport pure' by giving them nothing. Next time you watch a game, consider that everyone you see on the field in that stadium wide shot is making a ton of money, except the kids actually playing the game, many of whom, it has been discovered, are so poor don't have enough to eat. When a 'sport' is worth billions a year, and millions a year to the school, what's a death or two of some players compared to a coach with a winning record? Let's be clear: the coaching staff and athletic director's slovenly 'win at any cost' stupidity killed that young man, and they get to keep their jobs so they can try again with more young, desperate men. It's beyond pathetic. I have stopped watching college sports entirely starting this season. This story made me throw up in my mouth. America - the land of unbounded greed and corruption.

  15. Wow - a sure sign of the corrupt moral decay...just disgusting all the way around. How immoral can this coach be?

  16. The coach--he's handsome, magnetic, dynamic, white... I wonder how an up and coming Black coach might have fared with the death of an athlete and reports of abuse and a toxic culture.

  17. @princegeorges Wouldn't have made any difference as long as the Board of Regents thought he could preside over a winning season, and the University President retires as the scapegoat.

  18. Disgusting. The team should be boycotted.

  19. I hate that my first thought was, I wonder if McNair had been white would things be different.

  20. Glad to see/hear that Mary Land students will be protesting this idiotic decision by the big cheeses @ U of Mary Land...... The entire LOT should be fired/terminated and NOT paid..... short of criminal charges should be also included. I played football.....and the last year....1/2 the team QUIT over a student coach.....who got so big headed after we went 4-0 and UNSCORED on..........this is the worst decision every!!!!

  21. The Big Ten is pathetic. I'd say being an Urban Myer assistant isn't much of a positive on one's resume. Durkin is just the latest to demonstrate that. Look at the visual on the press conference as yet another old white man defends the indefensible. Shades of Michigan State's defense of Dr. Nassar where they attempted to deflect blame onto those girl's parents. MSU, THE OSU and now Maryland. Makes you wonder what's going on at all their other schools as they try to compete with these corrupt institutions. Getting to the point where you have to hold your nose when you watch big-time "college" sports and their "student" athletes.

  22. @Lou Good "The Big Ten is pathetic?" If you want to tell me that college football is out of control, only about money, and doesn't do right by most student-athletes, I'll buy that. But don't blame it on the Big Ten. It's national and pervasive.

  23. Does this incident tell you everything about the perversion of college sports? Keep the coach and let the president, who took the moral high ground, resign.

  24. A player dies on your watch, fomented by the tactics that you put in place, and you get to keep your job? You aren't supposed to die during football practice. Is this where we are as a country, when being in charge means you no longer are responsible when things go wrong under your watch? As a Maryland grad, I find this reprehensible.

  25. A disgusting example of athletics over integrity. Durkin is paid $2.5 millions and whines that the AD didn’t tell him how to be a head coach. Safety comes first. A kid dies on his watch from a preventable incident, the head coach should be fired. No excuses. He better win big because there will be no one to defend him if he loses.

  26. Goodness. A young man died. The regent's response is to laud the coach, who enabled a culture where vomit was slung, expletives directed at young men's self-worth, shaming, blame shifting, etc. etc. I guess it's not inexplicable, merely an example where the desired outcome was targeted and the message shaped to support that outcome. I hope Mr. McNair's parents bankrupt the Univ of Maryland system. That appears to be their only recourse.

  27. Nothings says "we care more about the almighty football dollar" than what Maryland is doing. Shame on them.

  28. As if football isn't dangerous enough. The coaching staff, whose immediate responsibility is always player safety, failed twice and are not being held to account. They failed by pushing beyond Jordan McNair beyond his physical limits and then they failed by not helping him as he lay dying. Disgraceful.

  29. Where's the NCAA Committee been during this internal investigation ?

  30. Terrible decision. i would assume that most parents would not want their future collegians to go here and be mistreated. Not sure how long this guy will last. I'm sure money had something to do with the board's decision (i.e., the prospect of paying off his salary and the previous coaches). I feel badly for the players who work so hard.

  31. The head of the Board of Regents, James T. Brady, defended the program on Tuesday, but he did say that problems had festered because “too many players feared speaking out.” Oh sure, blame the players. May as well blame the youngest assistant coaches as well. I don't think it is lost on anyone that the assistant who broke the scandal at Penn State was fired. Of course no one speaks out. What a rotten and fetid culture at Maryland, which will always be a mid level, wannabe contender.

  32. Why no outrage against the WNBA for not allowing players to play until 4 years after high school? And yet a firestorm that the NBA players association wants players to wait one year after high school? Treating people differently based upon gender. A great lesson for all.

  33. This article omits a critical piece of information. At the time of Jordan McNair's death, NCAA policy prohibited DJ Durkin from being involved in spring-summer workouts. The strength coach, Rick Court, has been released. Court made the tragic mistake of not following medical protocol when McNair got sick.

  34. We live in an evil empire where human life is anything but sacred. I taught for years at a major university and never attended any sporting game. If I presided over a university, I would take away 90% of all "salaries" paid to football and basketball staff and place that money in a fund for low-income students working a minimum wage job while trying to stay in school.

  35. Let’s get rid of college football and all of its revenue that provides scholarships for disadvantaged men and women in all college sports. Let them find scholarships elsewhere.

  36. Young people should die so Sunderland someone can hey a scholarship? That's what it vines in "sports"? One is death is too many. And there have been many young people dropping dead on the court and on the field How about some oversight on the practices of the coaches and administration? *Everyone's* got a boss.

  37. @Shamrock: Perhaps you'd care to quote some statistics on how many of those disadvantaged young men, the VAST majority of whom were pushed through high school totally unqualified for college because they played football well, actually graduate with a degree. The number is minuscule. To insinuate that college ball's revenue is all about giving the canon fodder scholarships is just disingenuous. They are just useful parts of an enormous money making juggernaut. It's the same argument those making millions off those poor kids use, and your version of it is just as full of excrement as theirs is. Do you make money from college football? I suggest you do. You'd think just for the sake of appearances, the animals making all that money off the sport would pay the players so killing the occasional one would not be such a big deal.

  38. As a graduate of a University of Maryland professional school, I am ashamed and angry at the action of the Board of Regents. A young man is dead, and no one is responsible. The strength and conditioning coach (hired by Coach Durkin) is paid off and gone. Coach Durkin has been on PAID administrative leave since August. The Athletic Director has now been charged with "watching" the football team (what was he doing before?). The University President will ride off into the sunset next June. No one is to blame, but a young man is dead.

  39. @rebogamy I think you missed the point. The Board of Regents decided to sacrifice the University President with early retirement because he's the only "higher up" who accepted blame. He was probably far away in his office when that young man collapsed, but it's his fault because nothing is more important than sports...particularly football, so the coach gets to stay.

  40. In modern American states, it is not unusual that the head football coaches at state universities, are the highest paid state employees.

  41. This is a tragedy. I cannot imagine the pain and anguish this young man's family have gone through. If it is true that they was a “toxic culture” of bullying and humiliating players" then this coach should go. The coach sets the tone and young people need to understand that there is accountability. Unfortunately that's not the message here. power and greed strike again.

  42. Well, he's the coach is fired.

  43. I commend the teammates that stood up to this ridiculous travesty. Their voices and public opinion forced U of Maryland to do what they should have done in the first place (NYTimes should update the story that the coach has now been dismissed). You guys are good teammates and friends. It is disturbing how much money and power can shield people that clearly should bear the burden of negligence in this case. U of Maryland, get your act together as the ineptitude in this case is beyond comprehension.