The Details from the Maryland Football Investigation are Crazy

Players reported that they were shown videos of serial killers and eyeballs getting ripped up by power drills during meals. The usual stuff.
University of Maryland campus.
Photo by John Alexis Guerra Gómez—Flickr

Today, the Washington Post obtained a copy of the report commissioned by the University of Maryland to investigate whether a culture of abuse existed within their football program. Surprisingly, despite listing a number of fairly heinous repeated player abuses—including choking a player with athletic equipment, a pattern of mishandling player injuries, and showing players various traumatizing videos during their team meals—the report made an odd semantic argument, noting that while they would not call the environment fostered by head coach DJ Durkin "toxic," they did find there to be "a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out."


The investigation was initiated last month after 19-year-old Maryland player Jordan McNair died as a result of severe heatstroke and alleged medical inattention during a practice on May 29, during which he collapsed on the field and had a seizure. After the collapse, reports also claim that one coach even yelled "drag his ass across the field!" McNair died two weeks later on June 13. Due to the specific finding that there was not a toxic culture at Maryland, the report concluded "we do not find that the culture caused the tragic death of Jordan McNair."

This seems to be a particularly problematic definition of what is or is not "toxic," seeing as how the report—based on, among other things, interviews with 55 former athletes who played under Durkin—describes some pretty toxic-sounding behavior.

This toxicity described by the players included strength and conditioning coach Rick Court choking players with weight-lifting equipment:

And Court hurling homophobic slurs at players:

Bizarrely, subjecting them to Clockwork Orange-like viewing sessions of traumatizing material during meal times:

The report also does not paint the athletic department in a great light—the word "chaos" was used—and blames it for not providing Durkin with the resources necessary "to support and educate a first time head coach in a major football conference." The program lacked a culture of accountability and even University President Wallace Loh was criticized for that.

It shouldn't be surprising, then, that players rated the team culture and coaches below the national average:

It is very curious why the report takes such a hard line stance on the definition of a word, but it's also hard to imagine Durkin, and athletic trainers Wes Robinson and Steve Nordwall—all currently on paid administrative leave—returning in any capacity to the university.