The University of Maryland is allowing its football coach to return to the field after the death of a player. The school’s board of regents reinstated coach DJ Durkin Tuesday against the university president’s recommendation.
Durkin was placed on “administrative leave” in August after an ESPN report into allegations of a toxic culture in the University of Maryland football program. The report followed the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair who suffered heatstroke in a practice in May and later died in the hospital. The family attorney said the cause of death was heatstroke.
Dr. Rod Walters, a former college athletic trainer and sports medicine consultant who led an investigation launched by the school following McNair’s death, concluded last month “there was a failure to identify symptoms and aggressively treat it.”
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An independent investigation concluded the football culture was not toxic, but it did find many students feared speaking out about the grueling program. McNair’s family demanded Durkin be fired.
Every Saturday my teammates and I have to kneel before the memorial of our fallen teammate. Yet a group of people do not have the courage to hold anyone accountable for his death. If only they could have the courage that Jordan had. It’s never the wrong time to do what’s right. pic.twitter.com/AaZVmLGTtS
“I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in my face,” Jordan’s father said.
Some players also had issues with retaining Durkin. Offensive lineman Ellis McKennie tweeted, “a group of people do not have the courage to hold anyone accountable for his death.”
In a statement, the coach wrote, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team.” Also on Tuesday, University of Maryland president Wallace Loh announced he would retire at the end of the academic year.
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