A report was released on Thursday of the investigation into the alleged “toxic culture” within Maryland’s football program led by head coach D.J. Durkin.
Although the report claimed the culture may not have been "toxic," but did reveal some disturbing things, like what the players were forced to watch while eating meals...
Examples, in the investigators’ telling, include:
- Players were made to watch graphic videos while eating:
Multiple players anonymously complain that the coaching staff would subject teams during meal time to disturbing videos. According to Gus Little, this included videos of serial killers, drills entering eyeballs, and bloody scenes with animals eating animals. Another player says that there were videos of rams and bucks running at each other at full speed. Mr. Durkin maintains that horror movies were sometimes shown at breakfast to motivate and entertain players.
- A player was removed from a team meeting for smiling. The report states there was a “preexisting rift” between the player and Durkin, who thought the player wasn’t paying attention.
- As a form of punishment, Court forced players to exercise on a stair climber with a PVC pipe across their shoulders for an hour. The investigation’s medical expert concluded this was “an appropriate exercise technique.”
- Court also allegedly slapped food out of a player’s hands when he was told the player didn’t finish eating before a team meeting:
Mr. Court subsequently snatched the box out of the player’s hand, tossed it against the wall, and addressed the entire group on the importance of punctuality, saying “I was trying to set the tone for what that day was going to be.” Others say Mr. Court knocked the food out of the player’s hand onto the ground.
Court stated that players were told to eat before the meeting.
- Multiple players told investigators that Court gave overweight players candy bars or snacks while others were working out:
Accounts vary as to whether Mr. Court placed the candy bars on the player’s lap, dropped them at his feet, hurled them at the player, or poured a bin of them on the player and then forced the player to eat them while the rest of the team worked out. Mr. Court says he threw a bag of the candy at the player’s feet. One player recalls that Mr. Court called the player “fat.”
- ESPN’s report claimed a player was forced to eat until he vomited. A coach confirmed a player did vomit during a team meal, but it was unclear whether the player was forced to eat, or if he was simply eating and vomited.
- But, speaking of vomit:
During the workout session, the player in question had gotten sick and vomited into the trash can. Some sources, including former players Michal (“Gus”) Little and E.J. Donahue, alleged that Mr. Court then shoved the player against a refrigerator in the gym and forced him to clean up his own vomit from the trash can, which Mr. Court had thrown across the weight room. Others state that Mr. Court just threw the can against the wall, without touching the player, and the spilled vomit was then cleaned by a staff member.
- Court crossed a line of abusive speech toward the players, whether he believes he did or not.
This included challenging a player’s manhood and hurling homophobic slurs (which Mr. Court denies but was recounted by many). Additionally, Mr. Court would attempt to humiliate players in front of their teammates by throwing food, weights, and on one occasion a trash can full of vomit, all behavior unacceptable by any reasonable standard. These actions failed the student-athletes he claimed to serve.
This feels like an abusive fraternity culture, not a football team. Sounds like a living nightmare.