Maryland places football head coach on leave

Head football coach DJ Durkin is under fire at Maryland.
Head football coach DJ Durkin is under fire at Maryland.(JONATHAN NEWTON/WASHINGTON POST/FILE)

The University of Maryland placed football coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave Saturday while the school scrutinizes allegations of poor behavior by the football staff, apparent misdeeds that came to light following the death of a player.

In an open letter, athletic director Damon Evans wrote: “At this time, the best decision for our football program is to place Maryland head football coach DJ Durkin on leave so we can properly review the culture of the program.”

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada will serve as interim coach.

Earlier Saturday, the head of the football team’s strength and conditioning staff was placed on paid leave while the school investigates claims he verbally abused and humiliated players, according to a person briefed on the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Maryland had not announced the decision regarding Rick Court.


Maryland has also placed two athletic training staffers it did not identify on leave as it investigates the death of Jordan McNair. The 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 of the death. A report is expected by Sept. 15. McNair’s parents are being represented by Baltimore attorney Bill Murphy, whose firm is also investigating.

ESPN reported that head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall also were placed on leave by Maryland.

An ESPN story on Friday quoted unidentified players, former players, and former members of Durkin’s staff, who contended Court and Durkin created a toxic culture within the program.

“The safety and well-being of our student-athletes is our highest priority,” Evans wrote. “These alleged behaviors are not consistent with the values I expect all of our staff to adhere to and we must do better.”


Durkin is starting his 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.

Keisha Staples, the mother of junior defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr., said she is close with a group of about eight players’ parents who would like to meet with Evans and school officials to voice their “full support” for Durkin.

Brooks was part of Durkin’s first recruiting class in 2016.

Staples said her son has never told her of inappropriate behavior by Durkin or Court, and that Durkin has been open and accessible when any issues have come up with Brooks.

“I’m sure not everybody has had the same experience we’ve had, but we have had a good experience,” Staples said.

Durkin brought Court to Maryland to lead the strength and conditioning staff in 2016.

More details about scandal

Several former students and student-athletes at Ohio State University described sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Dr. Richard Strauss, who worked at the university from 1978 until he retired in 1998. Interviews with Strauss’s victims and lawsuits filed on their behalf have named several Ohio State officials alleged to have known about the abuse but done nothing about it. The most notable of those officials is Jim Jordan, ex-assistant wrestling coach from 1987 to 1995 and now a Republican congressman running for House speaker. Jordan has repeatedly denied knowing of any abuse and said he would have reported it if he'd heard of it.



Ohtani is throwing again

Los Angeles Angels rookie Shohei Ohtani threw a light bullpen session. He threw 23 pitches, mixing in fastballs, sliders, and curveballs. It was the first time Ohtani had thrown off a mound since he last pitched June 6. It’s uncertain whether the two-way player will pitch again in the majors this season after being sidelined by a sprained right elbow. Ohtani was put on the disabled list June 8. He has returned to the lineup as a designated hitter and done well, batting .273 with 12 home runs and 32 RBIs . . . The Indians are putting slugger Edwin Encarnacion on the disabled list because of swelling in his left biceps. Manager Terry Francona made the announcement after the AL Central leaders beat the White Sox, 3-1, on Saturday night. Encarnacion left Friday night’s game and had an MRI in Cleveland on Saturday. Francona said X-rays on Encarnacion’s left hand ‘‘came back actually really good, really clean.’’ Encarnacion has struggled since being hit on the right hand by Yankees reliever Chad Green before the All-Star break . . . Rockies power-hitting third baseman Nolan Arenado was held out of the starting lineup because of a right shoulder strain. The Rockies remain hopeful the injury won’t result in a trip to the disabled list. Manager Bud Black said Arenado will suit up for games and could be called on to pinch hit, but he remains day to day as far as returning to the infield . . . Barry Bonds had his No. 25 jersey retired by the San Francisco Giants, 11 years after he broke Hank Aaron’s home run record in his 22nd and final major league season. The Giants held a ceremony at AT&T Park before a game against his other team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Giants great Willie Mays, Bonds’s godfather, was on hand. Mays called for Bonds to get into the Hall of Fame . . . The White Sox paid tribute to Hall of Fame slugger Jim Thome, who was presented several gifts, including an 8-foot bat with his name and images on it, in a ceremony before their game with the Indians, for whom he played 13 years.



Halep, Stephens reach final

Top-ranked Simona Halep reached the Rogers Cup final for the third time in four years after defeating Ashleigh Barty, 6-4, 6-1, in the semifinals in Montreal. Halep will play for the title Sunday against the third-ranked Sloane Stephens. Stephens, preparing for her US Open title defense, beat fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina, 6-3, 6-3, to advance . . . Stefanos Tsitsipas, who turns 20 Sunday, became the youngest player to beat four straight top-10 players in an event since the ATP World Tour was established in 1990, outlasting Kevin Anderson, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 7-6 (9-7), to reach the Rogers Cup final in Toronto. Tsitsipas will face top-ranked Rafael Nadal in a bid for his first tour title. The 32-year-old Nadal, chasing his 80th tour title, beat Karen Khachanov, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, in the rain-delayed night match that ended after midnight.



Manziel improves in loss

Quarterback Johnny Manziel eliminated the interceptions but couldn’t generate enough offense for the Montreal Alouettes (1-7) in a 24-17 road loss to the Ottawa Redblacks. After throwing four first-half interceptions last week in his Montreal debut, Manziel was 16 of 26 for 168 yards without an interception. He also ran three times for 36 yards, with his fumble at the goal line recovered for a third-quarter touchdown by center Kristian Matte. Trevor Harris was 44 of 54 for 487 yards and a touchdown for the East-leading Redblacks (5-3).


Teen wins European 5,000m

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 17, won the men’s 5,000 meters at the European Athletics Championship in Berlin, beating his older brother, Henrik, who finished second ahead of France’s Morhad Amdouni. Ingebrigtsen finished in 13 minutes, 17.06 seconds. Belgium won the gold in the men’s 4 x 400 relay and Poland won the women’s event. Germany’s Mateusz Przybylko took the men’s high jump by clearing 2.35 meters to equal his personal best. British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith successfully defended her 200-meter title ahead of Dutch sprinters Dafne Schippers and Jamile Samuel in a world-leading time of 21.89.


US women in softball final

Pitcher Rachel Garcia drove in the winning run in the eighth inning to lift the United States to a 4-3 win over Japan and into the final of the women’s world softball championship in Makuhari, Japan. The winner of the tournament will be awarded an Olympic spot. Canada will face Japan Sunday with a chance to advance to the final . . . Justin Allgaier passed rookie Austin Cindric with four laps left and held on to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Allgaier used the sixth restart to squeeze by Cindric, then held off a challenge on the 72nd lap for his third series win of the year . . . Dwyane Wade said the Miami Heat are the only team he’s considering playing for, if he plays, this season. Speaking at the Jr. NBA World Championship in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Wade told the media that he doesn’t have a timetable for when he’ll make a decision on whether to return. Wade is entering his 16th season, if he plays . . . American swimmers Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel had a better day at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo after unexpected losses during the first two days of the event. Ledecky won the 400-meter freestyle and Dressel took the 100 butterfly. Japan’s Rikako Ikee won the women's 100 butterfly in the best time of the year (56.08 seconds)