Several parents of Maryland football players have joined forces to encourage the school not to bring back suspended coach DJ Durkin, The Athletic reported Tuesday.
On Aug. 10, ESPN reported that Maryland's football coaches presided over a "toxic culture" under Durkin, characterized by abuse, name-calling and bullying. On Aug. 11, Durkin was placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation of the allegations.
The parents, who number about a half-dozen, told The Athletic that they did not learn of the alleged abuse by coaches until after the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair on June 13. They said their sons told them they didn't think their parents would believe them, and they didn't want to worry them.
"We are worried that this narcissistic sociopath is going to come back," one parent told The Athletic. "To me, he should never coach again."
"This is stuff coming from these boys that have no reason to lie because they're not nobodies," another parent said.
"There's nothing for them to gain by coming forward," said another parent. "They cannot win. This is a no-win for them. ... It's not just some disgruntled players."
Maryland's board of regents is overseeing an eight-person commission appointed to look into the culture of the football program. No timetable for its conclusion has been released. The full board of regents is scheduled to meet Friday. Maryland has not said whether Durkin's status will be addressed at that time.
An independent investigation into McNair's death, released Sept. 21, concluded the university was culpable in the player's heatstroke death during an offseason workout on May 29.
"We're terrified," one of the parents told The Athletic of the ongoing investigation. "We feel like we're alone."
The parents said they had spoken to the commission -- there was a parents meeting with representatives of the group on Oct. 4 -- but they said they were concerned about where the investigation was headed. They said the commission had not reached out to people with concerns and had not protected the anonymity of players.
They also acknowledged there are some vocal supporters of Durkin among other parents.
"We're worried that it is all predetermined," one parent told The Athletic. "That this is a whole charade meant to appease the people who feel like they have to say something."
When asked for a response to the report, a spokesperson for the University System of Maryland said, "The independent commission is committed to being thorough. Given that the board has not yet received the commission's report, the USM therefore cannot comment at this time on its findings."