By Ken Reed
Dear University of Maryland Board of Regents: You can’t be serious!
Maryland football coach DJ Durkin, who had been on administrative leave since August following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair due to heatstroke suffered at a team workout, was reinstated by Maryland’s board of directors Tuesday.
McNair died due to an abusive, unsafe coaching culture at Maryland. There’s no other way to read the situation.
Here’s a quick review of the team workout that cost McNair his life:
During a May workout, Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair exhibited “extreme exhaustion” during and after physically and emotionally abusive conditioning drills, according to reports. After a long delay, McNair was eventually taken to a hospital where his temperature remained 106 degrees, more than an hour after he initially began hyperventilating, collapsed on the field, and had a seizure.
McNair reportedly had to be dragged by two teammates to finish the final sprint in the conditioning drill. According to an ESPN story, multiple sources said that after McNair finished, Wes Robinson, Maryland’s longtime head football trainer, yelled, “Drag his ass across the field!” Durkin was at the workout in which McNair collapsed.
One player at the workout told ESPN:
“Jordan was obviously not in control of his body. He was flopping all around. There were two trainers on either side of him bearing a lot of weight. They interlocked their legs with his in order to keep him standing.”
The workout was being run by strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who was Durkin’s first hire when he got the head coaching job at Maryland. The two reportedly have the same coaching philosophy. They are “the same person,” according to some players. Court has resigned but Durkin, the man responsible for the abusive football culture, remains.
Many people, including Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, are questioning Maryland’s decision to reinstate Durkin. Maryland’s student government association has organized a rally to protest the decision.
“We demand justice for Jordan McNair,” said the Executive Board of the University of Maryland Student Government Association in a Facebook post.
Some Maryland football players walked out of the team meeting in which Durkin was brought back to the team as head coach.
“Every Saturday my teammates and I have to kneel before the memorial of our fallen teammate,” tweeted junior offensive lineman Ellis McKennie following Durkin’s reinstatement. “Yet a group of people do not have the courage to hold anyone accountable for his death. If only they could have the courage that Jordan had. It’s never the wrong time to do what’s right.”
McNair’s family lawyer was equally livid.
“How can a student-athlete be called a p – – – y as he is in the early stages of death, dying before their eyes, with no action taken, and yet no one be held accountable?” asked Hassan Murphy, the attorney representing McNair’s family.
That’s a very good question. In fact, it is THE question as we ponder the Maryland board of regents’ unfathomable decision to retain Durkin.
—Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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