The investigation into Maryland football determined the program was abusive and operated without oversight and accountability since coach DJ Durkin was hired in 2016, but said the culture was not “toxic,” according to a copy of the investigation obtained and released by The Washington Post.
The 192-page report says Durkin, university President Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans all bear some responsibility for the abusive environment, which “festered because too many players feared speaking out.”
The report makes no personnel recommendations but says former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court “engaged in abusive conduct during his tenure at Maryland,” and that the athletic department “did not provide adequate oversight of the football program, and failed to provide [Durkin] with the tools, resources, and guidance necessary to support and educate a first-time head coach in a major football conference.”
In a statement, a university spokesperson said the university is “committed to a fair and accountable process” and that it “received the report [Wednesday] and is carefully reviewing it.”
Formed Aug. 14, about two months after offensive lineman Jordan McNair’s death, the eight-person committee was tasked by the Board of Regents with evaluating the culture found Court “regularly crossed” a line between motivating and “attacking” by “challenging a player’s manhood and hurling homophobic slurs.”
And while Durkin “claims that it was not his responsibility to supervise Mr. Court,” the committee disagreed.
“It is a head coach’s responsibility to establish and maintain a healthy, positive environment for his players,” the report says. “[Durkin] bears some responsibility when Mr. Court … exhibits unacceptable behavior.”
Court never had a performance review during his tenure in College Park, according to the report.
The committee also says Loh and other university leadership bear some responsibility for “the ongoing dysfunction” of the athletic department. There was a “schism” in the department stemming from disagreements between former athletic director Kevin Anderson and his deputy, Damon Evans, who became athletic director in June, about nine months after Loh placed Anderson on a six-month sabbatical.
In 2016, Anderson said he felt Evans “was trying to undermine” him and “take his job.”
Loh placed Anderson on sabbatical in October 2017 after learning Anderson helped finance the legal representation of a football player accused of sexual misconduct.
Evans took over in an interim capacity, a title he held until late June, when he was hired to be permanent athletic director.
“Dr. Loh candidly states that, in retrospect, he wished he had moved sooner to change leadership,” the report reads.
That dysfunction is part of what allowed Court to continue his abusive conduct unabated, the report said, and also led to a lack of accountability for the training staff.
“Court was effectively accountable to no one, and the training staff went relatively unsupervised for extended periods due, in part, to a rift between the [Anderson] and [Evans], which permeated the entire department,” the report reads.
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story misstated how much time elapsed between Jordan McNair’s death and the creation of the eight-person committee. The article has been updated.