November 1, 2018 / 10:44 PM / 10 months ago

Maryland board chairman resigns, player claims assault

The chairman of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced his resignation Thursday, a day after Maryland fired football coach DJ Durkin.

James T. Brady issued a statement that said he was proud of the “deep and thorough process of responding to issues arising out of the tragic death of Jordan McNair,” the Terrapins’ offensive lineman who passed away earlier this year. The board, after reviewing an investigation into the football program, recommended Durkin be reinstated as football coach.

After both an internal and public uproar, Durkin was fired on Wednesday.

“And I respect the many people - including elected leaders, members of the public and members of the board - who disagreed with the recommendations a majority of this board ultimately made. These were difficult decisions, based on information included in reports stemming from two investigations and a great deal of thought and deliberation,” Brady wrote. “I understand that reasonable people could come to other conclusions. And even among our board, some did.”

He continued: “In recent days, I have become the public face of both the board and its decisions related to these matters. In my estimation, my continued presence on the board will inhibit its ability to move Maryland’s higher education agenda forward. And I have no interest in serving as a distraction from that important work. Accordingly, I will step down from the Board of Regents immediately.”

His resignation came as a Maryland football player said he was punched by a teammate because of his willingness to speak out against Durkin, according to a report in The Baltimore Sun on Thursday.

Backup punter Matthew Barber said he was assaulted at the close of practice on Tuesday. The Sun reported that sources had confirmed the fight took place, and athletic director Damon Evans issued a statement that said, “We take any matters involving physical altercations extremely seriously. We are talking with the players involved and will take appropriate actions based on the facts.”

Barber, 21, is a senior from Mechanicsburg, Pa. He said it had spread around the team that he had talked to investigators about the culture of the team, and he said that the pro-Durkin faction taunted him when Durkin returned to practice for the one day. He said some teammates hurled insults, some threw footballs at him.

Barber said that near the close of practice, another player tried to punch him in the face. Other players grabbed Barber’s arms, he said, allowing his teammate to successfully hit him. He said he had a black eye and his forehead needed multiple stitches. He also suffered a dislocated shoulder, he said.

“My jersey was bloody,” he told the newspaper. “I had blood all over my hands.”

Thursday afternoon, several Maryland players disputed Barber’s account on social media. Maryland senior linebacker Tre Watson called the report “a piece of fabrication,” and teammates followed suit.

Durkin was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 11 while two independent investigations were conducted, one into the death of McNair and one examining allegations of a “toxic culture” in the football program under the current leadership.

McNair collapsed during a May 29 practice, displayed symptoms of heatstroke and didn’t receive proper treatment from athletic staffers. He died June 13.

The independent investigations uncovered abuse and bullying in the football program in which players feared retaliation if they spoke up.

—Field Level Media

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