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The Washington Times

 

Joe Paterno. Lefty Driesell. Rick Pitino. Bobby Knight. DJ Durkin.

It's darn near impossible for a college or university head coach to know what his coaches and players are up to 24/7. That hardly offers a break, however, to University of Maryland football coach DJ Durkin.

Jordan McNair, 19, fell ill on the field during practice and died nearly a month later. Over the weekend, we received word that his grieving family has hired an attorney, the notable Billy Murphy, for possible legal action.

While the family ponders its actions, Maryland authorities must make the right move if Coach Durkin doesn't do it himself.

Coach Durkin must go.

ESPN reported Friday on allegations from current and former staff and players of bullying, verbal abuse and humiliation directed at players. Coaches reportedly have endorsed unhealthy eating habits and used obscenity-laced epithets to mock players' masculinity. One player reportedly was belittled verbally after passing out during a drill.

ESPN also reported Friday that McNair, 19, died of heatstroke after showing visible signs of distress during a workout May 29, including difficulty standing up and having seizures. Coach Durkin led the workout during which McNair became ill but was not involved in treating him afterward.

McNair died June 13.

"Coach Durkin was receptive to players' concerns about the coaching staff's methods, according to sources, and voluntary workouts lessened in intensity," ESPN reported. "But when preseason training camp opened Aug. 3, the atmosphere largely resumed as it had been prior to McNair's death, with some more attention paid to players showing fatigue or distress."

Student-athletes are under the care of their coaches, athletic directors and schools' hierarchies and the godfather of collegiate sports, the NCAA.

The facts surrounding McNair's death beg the question the same question asked of other notorious big-name schools and coaches:

⦁ Louisville's head basketball coach Rick Pitino, whose program caused scandal over hookers and players, and pay-to-play ties with athletic gear manufacturers.

⦁ Maryland's Lefty Driesell in the on-campus, draft-night drug death of basketball phenom Len Bias.

⦁ University of Indiana's tantrum-throwing Bobby Knight, former coach of Hoosiers basketball.

⦁ Penn State's legendary head football coach Joe Paterno, who left the beloved school following stomach-churning, years-long child-sex abuse allegations leveled against his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Coach Knight was so notorious he once said, "When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want [them to] bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my a." What an attitude.

For Maryland's Coach Driesell, there were no serious collegiate repercussions, although a grand jury probing Bias' death criticized the school's athletic department, admissions office and campus police.

Bias, you see, wasn't even qualified to graduate.

They all should have known.

Student-athletes are unprepared to fend for themselves, which is why "student" comes first.

Which is why Jordan McNair's death echoes a troubling question and offers a statement, too.

Who's minding NCAA coaches?

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com

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August 14, 2018
 
 
 

 

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