D.J. Durkin is, unfathomably, still the Maryland football coach

The sum total of professional employees of the University of Maryland held accountable for the completely preventable death of football player Jordan McNair is now known.

That total is one.

Strength coach Rick Court, a proud troglodyte who frequently degraded players by calling them vile names, including antigay slurs, is the only employee known publicly to lose his job in this entire tragedy. And part of the process of getting rid of Court was giving him a $315,000 settlement to go along with his August resignation.

The primary powers within the athletic department are back, per the school’s announcement Tuesday afternoon. At the reported insistence of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, head coach D.J. Durkin, suspended since mid-August, is back —a decision railroaded past school president Wallace Loh. Athletic director Damon Evans is back.

Jordan McNair is never coming back.

The regents are shrugging off that little detail, moving past the worst thing that could possibly happen in a college athletic program, keeping intact a leadership team that fundamentally failed the student-athlete welfare test. A young man dies because of the football program and everyone goes marching along to victory, as the school fight song goes.

“We believe that Coach Durkin has been unfairly blamed for the dysfunction in the athletic department,” Maryland Board of Regents chairman Jim Brady said. “And while he shares some responsibility, it is not fair to place all of it at his feet.”

9 PHOTOS
Jordan McNair, Maryland lineman who died of heatstroke
See Gallery
Jordan McNair, Maryland lineman who died of heatstroke
In a September 16, 2016, file image lineman Jordan McNair of McDonogh High School. Now with the University of Maryland, he died on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, two weeks after collapsing during a team workout. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)
#NewProfilePic https://t.co/illk2B94bM
All smiles over here😁 https://t.co/3NIAE4Gds7
🚈 https://t.co/pSi0O6LkGU
#NewProfilePic https://t.co/Jj11NGdpmK
✨ https://t.co/3DnfiEZCrJ
🤷🏽‍♂️🤷🏽‍♂️🤷🏽‍♂️ https://t.co/hdLzQ7XkIe
The future is bright👌🏽🐢 https://t.co/klUrpYmSsK
Thankful for them the most❤️ https://t.co/8ZW6Z1KdRk
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

We’ve all become numb to the tolerance of aberrant behavior in college sports, to the point that it’s hard to be shocked by it anymore. But this is shocking.

There were many expressions of sorrow when McNair died in June of heat stroke after an offseason conditioning workout — a workout in which Maryland officials publicly admitted they did not adequately treat McNair. There were tributes and symbols and gestures. There was a lot of talk.

But after ESPN reported in August about a “toxic culture” within the football program in regards to player welfare, where did all that talk lead? Not to any truly significant action. Millionaire football coaches seem increasingly harder to terminate for anything other than losing games.

D.J. Durkin is, unfathomably, still the Maryland football coach — although if another kid dies, by golly, that’s where they draw the line.

“There will be no third chance for anyone to get this right,” Brady said.

How the university intends to stand behind that message to the world, I have no idea. How Durkin is ever going to successfully recruit another player, I have no idea.

Maryland did the right thing in commissioning a thorough review of the program. The commission took its time, asked smart people to conduct more than 150 interviews, and created an in-depth report. But the conclusions of that report seem at odds with the information in it, and certainly at odds with the university’s decision to basically give Durkin and other leaders a do-over.

Report: Maryland football “fostered a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out.”

Report: The Maryland athletic department “lacked a culture of accountability” and was plagued by dysfunction.

Report: Court, who was Durkin’s first hire and right-hand man, was “effectively accountable to no one” and “engaged in abusive conduct during his tenure at Maryland.” He threw a garbage can full of vomit. He threw weights. He fat-shamed players. There was a disputed allegation by two players that he used a pull-down bar to choke a player in the weight room.

Commission conclusion after digesting report: Hmm, troubling. Harrumph harrumph, need to do better. Here are a few procedural changes. But despite everything our interviews produced that suggests a toxic culture, we do not agree with ESPN’s magic word. Not toxic. C’mon back, D.J.!

There is a disconnect here.

13 PHOTOS
Former Maryland football coach D.J. Durkin
See Gallery
Former Maryland football coach D.J. Durkin
LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach DJ Durkin of the Maryland Terrapins watches action before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach DJ Durkin of the Maryland Terrapins watches action against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Maryland 28-7. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 26: Head coach DJ Durkin of the Maryland Terrapins celebrates with Mike London after a victory against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on November 26, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 26: Head coach DJ Durkin of the Maryland Terrapins is doused with Gatorade after a victory against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on November 26, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 26: Maryland Terrapins head football coach D. J. Durkin watches the action during the game against the Boston College Eagles at Ford Field on December 26, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 24: Maryland Football head coach DJ Durkin takes questions during the Big 10 Football Media Days on July 24, 2017 at Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 02: Head coach D.J. Durkin of the Maryland Terrapins reacts on the sideline in the fourth quarter against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 2, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - SEPTEMBER 9: Maryland Terrapins head coach DJ Durkin south from the sidelines during the game between the Maryland Terrapins and the Towson Tigers at Capital One Field on Saturday, September 9, 2017. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 07: Maryland Terrapins head coach DJ Durkin questions an official after his quarterback was injured during third quarter game action between the Maryland Terrapins and the Ohio State Buckeyes (10) on October 7, 2017 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State leads Maryland 55-7 at the end of the third quarter . (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - OCTOBER 28: Maryland Terrapins wide receiver D.J. Moore (1) is congratulated by head coach D. J. Durkin after catching a two yard touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers on October 28, 2017, at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium in College Park, MD. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - OCTOBER 28: Under Armour founder Kevin Plank talks with Head Coach DJ Durkin of the Maryland Terrapins before the game against the Indiana Hoosiers on October 28, 2017 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 25: Maryland Terrapins head coach D. J. Durkin in action on November 25, 2017, at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium in College Park, MD. The Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Maryland Terrapins, 66-3. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - APRIL 3: Maryland head coach DJ Durkin looks on during spring football practice. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The rational conclusion to draw from reading the Maryland report is that an old-school, demeaning, meathead mentality proliferated in the football program. Court ruled throughout the offseason — when the rest of the coaching staff is limited in its contact with players — by fear and intimidation, and did so with the full backing of Durkin. If that’s the climate a coach wants to foster, he’d better pray at night that nothing terrible goes wrong.

And then a player died during a running workout due to heat stroke and staff malpractice — including a trainer yelling to “drag [McNair’s] ass across the finish line,” when the offensive lineman was struggling. A reasonable person can draw a direct line from program mentality to individual tragedy. And yet, the powers that be won’t extend that line to leadership accountability.

Instead of finding a toxic culture, Maryland aligned itself with the cult of football. The money associated with Big Ten membership, the allure of a promising coach like Durkin to elevate the program into competitive alignment with the rest of the powerhouse Big Ten East division — the university found a way to keep those things intact instead of finding its way to substantive change.

We’ll see whether Durkin is worth the collateral damage to Maryland’s rep. His record as head coach at Maryland is 10-15. It’s not like the school was trying to save Nick Saban.

If this is an economic decision based on what it would cost to buy out Durkin, Evans and Loh — who reportedly wanted to fire Durkin and, it should be noted, did not mention his name once during Tuesday’s announcement — shame on Maryland. It’s no secret that the school moved to the Big Ten because it was drowning in athletic department red ink, and while annual conference revenue eventually will balloon to more than $50 million, Maryland hasn’t been in the league long enough yet to get its full share. That will come in 2020-21.

Was that part of the motivation behind keeping its individuals with big salaries in place? Nobody would dare say so publicly.

There is no expense that makes it permissible to view this as an economic transaction instead of an institutional reputation decision. You cannot put a price on what you stand for.

Throughout this entire ordeal, which stretched from late May until late October, the regents listened to a chorus of voices. There were impassioned defenses of Durkin and his staff, and impassioned condemnations.

In the end, the regents chose to ignore the voice of the man most affected by this avoidable tragedy — the voice of Martin McNair, father of Jordan McNair. His August appraisal of D.J. Durkin: “He shouldn’t be able to work with anybody else’s kid.”

And yet he will.

D.J. Durkin is back.

Jordan McNair, dead on a Maryland football field on Durkin’s watch, is never coming back.

More from Yahoo Sports:
Shaun White’s offensive Halloween outfit draws jeers
LeBron gets testy after leadership question
Red-hot KlayThompson sets NBA 3-point record
Aaron Hernandez reportedly used drugs prior to suicide

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.