University of Maryland athletic director Damon Evans announced on Tuesday that the school had parted ways with football head strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, making him the first member of the football staff to lose his job in the wake of the death of Jordan McNair.
"When reading the article, in sports you always have some complaints that come forward and we look at all of those and make the appropriate decisions and how to resolve them," Evans said Tuesday at a press conference in the ballroom at The Hotel at the University of Maryland. "The severity of those allegations was significant. I sat down with Rick to ascertain what had transpired and based upon conversations and looking at everything in totality, I thought it was in best interest to put him on administrative leave."
Current and former players described Court as an abusive and cruel coach in the ESPN article. Former Maryland defensive lineman Malik Jones said Court would throw weights at players, and an anonymous current player said Court would force players to lift more weight than they were capable of.
"During some of the workouts, there were kids who were really struggling, and Coach Court, he'd keep on yelling. He would use profanity a lot, try to push kids when they reached their limit during workouts," J.T. Ventura, who played at Maryland under Randy Edsall and Durkin, told ESPN. "If a kid would stop or go on the ground, [Court] and the medical staff would try to drag players up and get them to run."
Court was one of Durkin's first hires when he took over as Maryland's coach in December 2015. One source told ESPN that the two of them were "joined at the hip."
A current player told ESPN that Court was "Durkin's tool" and would target certain players with more difficult workouts "just to make their lives miserable."
"He's the guy people hate, and that way Durkin doesn't have to take the blow for it," the player told ESPN. "Guys can't stand Coach Court."
Following McNair's death in June, the university hired sports medicine consulting firm Walters Inc. to perform an external review of the athletic department's safety protocols. The review isn't expected to be completed until Sept. 15.
Before the ESPN reports, all indications were that the school would wait until the conclusion of the investigation before making any significant announcements or changes related to McNair's death.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Court had been fired. The article has been updated.