Sunday schools

Rick Court, former Terps coach who allegedly abused players, hired at Michigan high school

Rick Court, the former strength and conditioning coach of former University of Maryland football head coach DJ Durkin, was hired for a similar role in a high school track and field program in Greenville, in Michigan, the school district announced last week.

To research resigned from this university in August 2018 after media reports said he helped foster a toxic team environment. He was the first member Maryland football staff to lose their jobs after the death of Jordan mcnair, a 19-year-old offensive lineman who died 15 days after suffering heat stroke during team training. Last Sunday marked the third anniversary of McNair’s death.

Years after Court parted ways with Maryland football, his name resurfaced miles away in Greenville, Michigan, a small town of about 8,000 people northeast of Grand Rapids. Since Greenville High School announced its role as the strength and conditioning coordinator, community members have looked at the details of the court’s history at this university and assessed what it might mean for their school district. .

In 2018, former university president Wallace Loh launched an independent investigation which found that Court was routinely abusive towards players. The eight investigators spoke to 165 people – including college athletes, parents, players and members of the sports department – for hundreds of hours before publishing a 192-page article. report.

[Report finds Rick Court terrorized Maryland football players and wasn’t held accountable]

Members of the Greenville Public Schools School Board expressed opposing views in a Monday night meeting, each referring to the conclusions of this investigation. The majority of the board of directors supports the administration’s decision to hire Court, according to a statement released by the body after the meeting. The press release also cites the “mitigation process in place” including the oversight plan.

The plan, according to a school district document obtained by The Diamondback, included “a trial period of 60 working days.” The court will report to athletic director Brian Zdanowski for weekly, often daily, checks and progress reports, according to the document.

“Sir. The court addressed its responsibility for past incidents and expressed the learning and growth from those experiences,” the document said.

At a meeting of the Greenville Public Schools Education Council, two members expressed their views on the recent hiring of Rick Court in the track and field program. (Rina Torchinsky / For the Diamondback)

The court and the Greenville Senior High Athletics Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The superintendent declined to comment before Monday’s school board meeting.

School board trustee Jodi Petersen raised concerns about the hiring of Court, which she identified as the decision of the school administration rather than that of the board.

Petersen described the behavior of the Court as described in the investigation. During workouts, Court threw weights, food and, in one case, a garbage can full of vomit, according to the report. He also called the students homophobic and misogynistic insults, the players said, and a former athlete recalled that the court told a player to kill himself, according to the report.

During the investigation, Durkin, that the university fired in November 2018, told the commission that he had heard Court use the expressions “fagot pussy” and “bitch pussy”, but that he had never heard such language directed against individuals.

Gus Little, a former Maryland inside football linebacker, told investigators the court called him a “bitch bitch” while undergoing intravenous treatment after suffering cramps all over his body. The court denied ever approaching a player receiving medical treatment in this way, according to the report.

As part of the district supervision plan, the court will also undergo awareness training “to ensure that the correct language is used”.

Petersen said she understood the Court to deny many of these incidents, but pointed to the investigation’s identification of a “pattern of aggression which is Mr Court’s approach to motivation”.

[Report finds DJ Durkin struggled to lead Maryland football, didn’t rein in abusive coach]

“The investigation into this behavior in Maryland concluded that Mr. Court engaged in this behavior with the best interests of the players at heart,” said Petersen. “While Mr. Court felt this behavior was in the best interests of the student-athletes, I am concerned about his ability to discern what is best for our students.”

Charlie Mahar, another director on the board, spoke out in favor of hiring the court. Mahar pointed to the investigation, which included comment from a player who called the strength and conditioning staff “the best hire ever!” ” Mahar also referred to a team survey included in the report that rated the adequacy of the strength and conditioning head coach staff at 4.46 on a scale of 1 to 5.

Mahar told the school board he spoke to Court’s ex-wife and former employers, including Durkin.. Mahar said that Durkin, who is currently an assistant football coach at the University of Mississippi, told him he would hire Court again “in the blink of an eye and that he was the best strength and conditioning trainer he’s ever worked with.”

Durkin did not immediately respond to the request for comment.

“I haven’t found anyone who has more than praise for Rick Court,” Mahar said. “I have spoken to the high school coaches who have had contact with him before and they all seem extremely impressed and extremely excited.”

Petersen told the Diamondback that “it is probably inappropriate for board members to individually recruit or vet” candidates.

A statement on the high school athletic department website hailed Court’s hiring as a check mark toward goal number one identified in the school system’s strategic plan: “Establish an enhanced and unified strength and conditioning program.” ”

Petersen told the school board she believes the court can help form winning teams, but the court’s documented history of abuse does not match the Greenville Public School sporting code, which relies on the work of team, self-discipline and respect for others, among others. values.

Petersen said she heard positive things about Court and spoke to him on the phone, but said her interactions with him were not enough to change her position.

“Sir. The reputation of the Court precedes it, and that reputation has a detrimental effect on the integrity of this district,” said Petersen.

Senior editor Eric Neugeboren contributed to this report.
The title of this story has been updated.

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