The University of Maryland strength and conditioning coach accused of creating an environment of bullying in the football program has resigned, and the school has acknowledged mistakes were made in the treatment of a player who collapsed on the field and died two weeks later.
Several coaches and training staff had been on administrative leave following a scathing ESPN report quoting unidentified players, former players and former members of head coach DJ Durkin's staff, who contended assistant coach Rick Court and Durkin created a toxic culture within the program. The report included claims Court verbally abused and humiliated players.
Athletic Director Damon Evans announced Court is no longer with the team at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. University President Wallace Loh said he and Evans went to Baltimore Tuesday to meet with the family of a player who died two weeks after being hospitalized following a workout.
“We went there this morning to meet with the parents of Jordan McNair … to express on behalf of the university our apology for the loss of their son,” Loh said.
Loh said he told McNair's parents, "The university owes you an apology. You entrusted Jordan to our care, and he is never returning home again."
A lawyer for the McNairs released a statement saying, "While Marty and Tonya will never get another day with Jordan, Dr. Loh’s words were meaningful to them and give them some comfort that he will put the university on the path to change the culture of the program so that no Terrapin family will have to endure the heartache and grief that they feel."
“The university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made on that fateful workout day of May the 29th, which of course led subsequently to his death,” Loh said.
Loh said a review of McNair’s case is expected to be completed in September, but progress reports reveal the training staff misdiagnosed McNair and didn’t follow proper protocol, including taking of vital signs.
The emergency response plan was not appropriately followed, and heat illness was not identified or treated, Evans said.
Durkin remains on paid administrative leave while the investigation of the football program continues. Maryland also placed two athletic training staffers on leave.
McNair, a 19-year-old offensive lineman was hospitalized May 29 after a team workout and died June 13. Dr. Rod Walters, a former college athletic trainer, has been hired by Maryland to investigate the circumstances.
According to ESPN, a 911 call was made almost an hour after McNair first showed signs of a health emergency.
"We have an individual at 4068 Fieldhouse Drive that's hyperventilating after exercising and is unable to control their breath," the caller said.
The university said it is already making changes.
"We will do everything possible to make sure that the situation Jordan McNair found himself in will never happen again," Loh said.
Changes include staff training, and more cooling stations and increasing breaks when practices are held in the heat.
This is Durkin's third season at Maryland. The 40-year-old former Michigan defensive coordinator is 11-15 in two seasons after receiving a five-year, contract worth $12.5 million in December 2015.
Durkin brought Court to Maryland to lead the strength and conditioning staff in 2016. Court had been the head strength coach at Mississippi State since 2014 under coach Dan Mullen. Court also worked with Durkin at Bowling Green in 2005 and 2006, when Durkin was an assistant.
Court tweeted about his resignation Tuesday afternoon.
CORRECTION (Aug. 14, 2018): An earlier version of this story said Court had been fired.