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Maryland’s Football Scandal Hits Next Level

As former A.D. is accused of some potentially ugly stuff

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Maryland v Texas
AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 02: Head coach D.J. Durkin of the Maryland Terrapins and athletic director Kevin Anderson walk off the field after defeating the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 2, 2017 in Austin, Texas.
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

In search of better revenue, Maryland left the ACC for the Big Ten in 2014. It’s been long enough now so that we have some perspective on the move and how it’s worked out.

The money is there and it has increased. As an ACC team, Maryland was getting around $58 million; last season it got $94.9 million.

However the average Big Ten haul was $125.5 million, so the Terps aren’t hitting it as big as their conference colleagues are.

In the ACC, FSU, a football power, pulled in $144.5, Louisville got $120, and UNC and UVA were in Maryland’s neighborhood with $96.5 and $92.8 respectively (all figures in millions).

This is pre-ACC network, which starts next year.

Maryland also gave up its historic rivalries with Duke, UNC, Virginia and NC State and really haven’t found anything to replace it on the Big Ten side.

Football is the key to athletic income currently although that may suffer as more and more parents keep their kids away from football and the dangers we now know concussions pose to participants.

And in that, Maryland has some serious issues.

The Terps as Big Ten members trail in facilities and have finished 3-9, 6-7 and 4-8. Non-Conference wins have come against Richmond, USF, Howard, FIU, Texas and Towson.

Now they have a burgeoning football scandal which started with a player, Jordan McNair, dying of heatstroke after a workout and what we’ve learned about Maryland football since is nasty and brutish.

Football has always been a macho sport with a relish for a certain Darwinian streak but a lot of what is alleged to have happened is beyond the pale. Coach DJ Durkin is on paid leave and expected to be fired when the investigation finished.

Now we learn that former A.D. Kevin Anderson inappropriately used university funds to defend two players who were accused of sexual assault against another student who did not have such university largesse made available.

Apparently Durkin was instructed by Anderson to retain the firm for the accused athletes.

Reached by phone, Anderson said the report was inaccurate and an attorney from the practice chimed in, saying that reports on this contained “numerous factual inaccuracies that were meant to paint Kevin Anderson in an unflattering and [I believe] false light.”

Certainly possible and it could also have been an attempt to build a stronger case against Durkin, though if what has been alleged is true the current case seems strong enough. A dead player? Essentially hazing? Brutal treatment of players?

Throw a sexual assault case where the players got a significant benefit on top of that and Durkin might as well start packing. He’ll never coach at Maryland again.

This also underscores Maryland’s tough spot with football and athletic revenue in general. They compete not only with the Big Ten but also with the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens. The NBA’s Washington Wizards and Georgetown, along with other local universities, provide competition in basketball.

The best thing Maryland had going for it was traditional rivals. You could really market a Duke-Maryland game or a UNC-Maryland game or even UVA or State.

That’s all over now.

It’ll be interesting to see how the football scandal unwinds. As bad as UNC’s was, and it was disgraceful, at least no one died. The report on this is going to be scathing and limits, at least in the short term, will be imposed on football. This will further limit Maryland’s ambitions and ability to compete in the Big Ten and may push them even further down the conference pecking order.

But hey, at least there’s lots of money and winter trips to Lincoln, Nebraska to look forward too.

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