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Head coach DJ Durkin placed on administrative leave by Maryland following abuse allegations

Fallout from the tragic death of Jordan McNair is rocking the Terrapins program.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Maryland Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

One of Urban Meyer’s disciples is now in a similar predicament for different reasons, as Maryland Terrapins head coach DJ Durkin was placed on paid administrative leave by the school on Saturday as the program investigates allegations of abuse following the June death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada was named the interim coach by athletics director Damon Evans.

“I am extremely concerned by the allegations of unacceptable behaviors by members of our football staff detailed in recent media reports,” Evans wrote in a letter sent to members of the Maryland community. “We are committed to fully investigating the program. 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. This is effective immediately. Matt Canada will serve as interim head coach.”

The investigation by a sports medicine consulting group is expected to be completed by September 15.

A bombshell report on Friday from ESPN prompted the decision by Maryland, as former players and staffers described a “toxic” culture, and immediately resulted in the school placing two trainers on paid administrative leave on Friday, with the strength and conditioning coach facing the same fate on Saturday.

The school is now investigating accusations that the coaching staff used fear, intimidation, and harassment in attempts to motivate players. Tirades laced with profanity were common — one player was targeted after passing out during a drill.

Based on those accounts, Durkin and his staff were pushing players to the extreme in an attempt to change the culture of the Terrapins football program. Beyond the psychological abuse alleged in the ESPN report, it seems clear that if the accounts are true, the football program was risking the health of its players by pushing them beyond their limits. McNair tragically paid the ultimate price.

“It shows a cultural problem that Jordan knew that if he stopped, they would challenge his manhood, he would be targeted,” one of the current players told ESPN. “He had to go until he couldn’t.”

However, it wasn’t just that McNair knew the consequences if he stopped, it was the unexplained hour between the on-field seizure that McNair suffered and the emergency call to 911. When he was finally admitted into the hospital roughly 40 minutes later, his body temperature of 106 degrees raised questions about whether he was iced down properly in that critical time period following his seizure. McNair passed away two weeks later.

Texas faces Maryland in the season opener on September 1 at FedEx Field in Maryland.