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A group of concerned parents are worried about what Durkin's potential reinstatement could mean for their sons after a toxic culture was revealed within his program.

By Emily Caron
October 16, 2018

Several parents of Maryland football players spoke out against the potential reinstatement of suspended head football coach DJ Durkin, according to The Athletic

Three parents spoke anonymously with The Athletic, telling the publication that none of their sons had spoken of the player abuse within Maryland's football program prior to the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair in June because they didn't want their parents to worry. The players were also concerned that they would not be believed if they spoke out about Durkin's program.

"There's nothing for them to gain by coming forward," one parent told The Athletic. "They cannot win. This is a no-win for them. ... It's not just some disgruntled players."

Based off of the stories their sons shared after McNair's tragic death, a half-dozen parents are now voicing a strong concern regarding Durkin resuming his role atop the Terps team.

“We are worried that this narcissistic sociopath is going to come back," one parent said. "To me, he should never coach again.”

An eight-person commission is currently investigating the culture of Maryland's football program. No timetable for its conclusion has been released, but the University's full board of regents is scheduled to meet Friday, Oct. 19. Maryland has not commented on whether or not Durkin's status will be addressed at that time.

After McNair died of heatstroke on June 13, two weeks after the 19-year-old offensive lineman collapsed at a May 29 workout, an initial investigation was opened into the program's safety procedures. The external review resulted in the eventual dismissal of several members of the athletics staff on Aug. 10.

The same night that Maryland announced the findings from the review, ESPN published an explosive in-depth report detailing a "toxic" culture within the football program. The report outlined a culture of fear and intimidation fostered under Durkin, singling out strength and conditioning coach Rick Court in particular. Durkin's program was characterized by abuse, name-calling and bullying.

Maryland placed Durkin on administrative leave the next day. The ongoing eight-person commission was appointed in response.

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University president Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans announced on Aug. 14 that 'the university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes our training staff made on that fateful workout day of May 29.' Loh said that the training staff “misdiagnosed” McNair’s situation. McNair's temperature was not taken, nor was he given cold water immersion to lower his body temperature. Evans announced that the university has parted ways with Court.

Durkin has remained on leave since August 11 as the external review is commissioned. If and when Durkin will return is still unknown, but based on the information these parents have been told by their sons, they don't believe that day should ever come.

“Some have said they don’t care, because their sons were not abused,” one parent said. “Do they not care that they’re supposed to be friends with Tonya [Wilson, McNair’s mother]? Do they not care that she has to wake up every morning with a dead son?”

Some are worried that Maryland's decision to place Durkin on leave is planned simply to appease the concerned public.

"We’re worried that it is all predetermined,” one parent said. “That this is a whole charade meant to appease the people who feel like they have to say something.”

McNair's parents have already called for Durkin's dismissal. McNair's father told ABC's Good Morning America that the coach "shouldn't be able to work with anybody else's kid," after Maryland announced his leave.

"You don't send your kid away to college. You send your kid away to college for them to be developed into young people—and that's physically, emotionally and spiritually. And teach our young kids, our young people that we worked so hard to get there, to 'Hey, I'm giving my child to you. Keep him safe.'

"They did anything but that. So of course he should be fired."

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