LSU WR Davis arrested, suspended indefinitely

LSU WR Davis arrested, suspended indefinitely

LSU Tigers reserve wide receiver Drake Davis was arrested on a second degree battery charge Friday night and has been suspended indefinitely by the team.

Davis, a junior, is alleged to have committed battery on his girlfriend on multiple occasions in April and June, according to a police report obtained by WBRZ in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The report alleges Davis tried to strangle her, broke one of her ribs and texted threatening messages.

Davis played in all 13 games for LSU last season, catching three passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns, including an 87-yard score against Syracuse. He also caught one pass for 19 yards in 2016.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.

Maryland board takes control of investigations

Maryland board takes control of investigations

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents on Friday unanimously voted to assume authority and control over all aspects of the investigation into the June 13 death of Terrapins offensive lineman Jordan McNair.

There are currently two ongoing investigations: One is led by Walters Inc., which was hired by Maryland to figure out whether staff members followed proper protocol in the treatment of McNair on May 29 when he was hospitalized with heatstroke that eventually led to his death. The second is an investigation into allegations of a toxic culture within the football program that were revealed in a recent report by ESPN. The second investigation was initiated this week by university president Wallace Loh, and is being done by a group of four people he has chosen:

* Ben Legg, retired chief judge, U.S. District Court for Maryland;

* Alex Williams, retired judge, U.S. District Court for Maryland and former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney;

* Charlie Scheeler, senior counsel, DLA Piper. The former prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland also was the lead counsel for the investigation of steroids use in Major League Baseball as well as the monitor of Penn State’s compliance under its Athletics Integrity Agreement with the NCAA and the Big Ten.

University of Maryland officials did not immediately return an email Friday asking whether the fourth person has been named yet, but Loh said Tuesday he has already contacted “a retired and respected football coach and athletic administrator from outside the university, to be named soon.”

Maryland’s Board of Regents will also “assume control” over that commission as well, and will receive both reports. The investigation led by Walters Inc. is expected to conclude Sept. 15, and Loh said that will be made public.

According to a news release late Friday evening, more details about the board’s plans will be announced next week.

A special four-hour meeting was held at 10 a.m. Friday in Baltimore, where the board also asked the office of the Attorney General to represent Maryland on “any and all legal claims related to Mr. McNair’s death.”

The McNair family has hired the law firm of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, and their attorney Billy Murphy told ESPN on Thursday that “we anticipate a prompt resolution of this or else we’ll just go back to court.”

“Everyone throughout the University System of Maryland was deeply saddened by the death of Jordan McNair,” USM Board of Regents Chair James Brady said in a prepared statement. “Our thoughts continue to be with his family and friends, and with everyone at UMCP, at this very difficult time.

“Earlier today, the Board of Regents was fully briefed by UMCP President Wallace Loh about the circumstances of Mr. McNair’s tragic death, about the actions that have been taken since, and finally about the alarming allegations that have emerged in the last week related to the football program,” Brady said. “After a long and robust discussion, the board voted unanimously to assume responsibility for the investigations into these two separate issues. Our goal is to ensure that all system universities, including UMCP, are actively working to protect the health and safety of every student and to foster a supportive culture in which everyone can flourish.”

Loh issued the following comment: “We welcome the oversight of the Board of Regents at this critical time. We must thoroughly investigate the death of student-athlete Jordan McNair and understand the allegations of the culture of our football program so that we can ensure the health and well-being of every one of our student-athletes. We will continue to honor Jordan’s life, and we will work with our Board of Regents to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.”

Updated FAQ: The latest on the Maryland football controversy

Updated FAQ: The latest on the Maryland football controversy

The University of Maryland board of regents held a closed meeting Friday morning in Baltimore, where it unanimously voted to assume authority and control over all aspects of two university-prompted investigations into the June 13 death of Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair from heatstroke.

Beyond the already-announced suspensions of head coach DJ Durkin and two of his staff members, no major personnel issues have been announced. Here’s a look at the current status at Maryland, the key remaining questions, and some answers based on a copy of Durkin’s contract obtained by ESPN:

Maryland’s response: University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh on Tuesday said the school “accepts moral and legal responsibility for the mistakes” made by its athletic training staff at a workout May 29 that ultimately led to the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair from heatstroke.

Previous fallout: Rick Court, the assistant athletic director for sports performance, resigned Monday, according to a letter he posted on Twitter, and reached a financial settlement with the university Tuesday. On Aug. 10, the school placed head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall on administrative leave, sources told ESPN. On Aug. 11, Durkin was placed on paid administrative leave.

What happens to DJ Durkin? Loh has said that Durkin, along with the two other staff members who have been placed on paid administrative leave, deserve “due process,” so he wanted to wait until the university’s external investigations have been completed before making any decisions. Maryland hired Walters Inc. to conduct an external review, and its results are expected Sept. 15. McNair’s parents, Marty McNair and Tonya Wilson, have said Durkin should be fired.

Can Durkin be fired for cause? According to Durkin’s contract, “Cause shall be defined as (i) material misconduct, which is wrongful, immoral (meaning inconsistent with the professional standards of conduct of an intercollegiate head football coach) or unlawful conduct which adversely affects the Coach’s ability to meet the performance standards and performance commitment set out in Sections 1 and 3 …”

From Section 3, paragraph M (among his duties as head coach are …)

“… conducting himself professionally and ethically, with integrity and sportsmanship, at all times, and avoiding inappropriately profane, discourteous, or insulting behavior towards student-athletes, other teams and coaches, spectators, and members of the media.”

Maryland’s case to fire Durkin with cause could be open to interpretation based on a subjective definition of “professional standards of conduct.”

How much would Maryland have to pay Durkin in a buyout? Maryland would need to pay Durkin roughly $6.5 million. The contract stipulates that the school owes him 65 percent of what is left on his deal through the end of the 2021 season.

Who can fire Durkin? Athletic director Damon Evans is the only person who has explicit ability to fire the head coach, and Evans is contractually obligated to meet with Durkin to discuss reasons for termination if Durkin wants to meet.

What is the status of the investigations? Maryland’s board of regents announced Friday afternoon that it was assuming control of the university’s two investigations. Maryland had previously hired Walters Inc. to conduct its external probe, which is expected to conclude Sept. 15. Loh said the university would make that report public. According to preliminary findings, the Maryland staff did not take McNair’s temperature at the workout, did not apply a cold-water immersion treatment and did not follow the emergency response plan appropriately.

What else is Maryland doing? Loh said he put together a four-person commission to investigate allegations of a toxic culture within the football program. The members are:

• Ben Legg, retired chief judge, U.S. District Court for Maryland;

• Alex Williams, retired judge, U.S. District Court for Maryland and former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney;

• Charlie Scheeler, senior counsel, DLA Piper. The former prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland also was the lead counsel for the investigation of steroids use in Major League Baseball as well as the monitor of Penn State’s compliance under its Athletics Integrity Agreement with the NCAA and the Big Ten.

Who is the fourth person on the committee? As of Friday evening, Maryland hadn’t announced this. Loh said Tuesday he has already contacted “a retired and respected football coach and athletic administrator from outside the university, to be named soon.”

What’s next legally? Billy Murphy, one of the McNair family attorneys, told ESPN on Thursday their next step is to have discussions with Maryland officials about a possible settlement. Murphy said he was astounded at Loh’s statement Tuesday accepting responsibility.

“Now if that’s what they really mean,” Murphy said, “the next step will be to have discussions with them about the measure of damages to be paid to this young man’s family. And we anticipate a prompt resolution of this or else we’ll just go back to court.”

Could this be a criminal case? John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s office, said, “There isn’t a criminal investigation and no decision has been made as to whether or not there will be one, but we are certainly watching very closely as the university investigation continues.”

What’s next for the parents? Wilson and McNair established the Jordan McNair Foundation in June in memory of their son. Its purpose is to educate student-athletes, parents and the football community on the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and heatstroke.

“That’s all I have,” Tonya said. “I’m like a puzzle with a missing piece, and trying to find something to fill. That piece is working through the foundation.”

Report alleges risky behavior by Smith at OSU

Report alleges risky behavior by Smith at OSU

Ohio State’s ongoing investigation involving the Buckeyes‘ football program and coach Urban Meyer will be completed on Sunday as planned, the university announced Friday evening.

The investigators will deliver a report for the independent working group directing the probe, which will be shared with the board of trustees in an executive session next week.

Ohio State placed Meyer on paid administrative leave on Aug. 1 after the ex-wife of former assistant coach Zach Smith accused Meyer of mishandling past domestic assault allegations she made against Smith. The university appointed the special working group to review the allegations on Aug. 5 and said the investigation would be completed in two weeks.

University president Michael Drake, along with the board of trustees, will determine what action is needed after hearing the results of the investigation.

In its statement Friday evening, the university said that public notice of the meeting will be released at least 24 hours in advance, and that following deliberations with the board, Drake will announce his decision.

The independent working group is chaired by former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson. The investigation is being led by former chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Mary Jo White, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

On Thursday, Drake had indicated the probe might not be done by Sunday, telling radio station WOSU that the investigation “will be finished when it’s finished.”

“There is a great deal of interest in this investigation,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we had really good information, and there is time pressure. We wanted to have that information as quickly as possible. …The most important thing is to get good information so we can make the right decisions going forward.”

Drake said that “things are moving apace” in the investigation but did not comment on what was being asked or who was being interviewed. Zach Smith and Courtney Smith, his ex-wife, have both confirmed through their attorneys that they spoke to the group of investigators earlier this week.

Courtney Smith alleged in an interview with college football reporter Brett McMurphy earlier this month that Meyer and others at Ohio State knew about accusations of domestic abuse in 2015 and did not act on them. Meyer, who fired Zach Smith in late July, originally said he knew nothing about a 2015 incident between the Smiths. He later retracted that statement and said he followed proper protocol in reporting the issue when it occurred in October 2015.

Drake did not get into specifics when asked if lying to the public could be considered a fireable offense.

“What we’re doing now is an investigation to try to find out exactly what happened, why, what the context was, etc.,” Drake said. “I’m going to wait until I know those things before I make conclusions. I’ve been doing my best possible job to keep an open mind. As I said, stay tuned.”

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith also knew about the 2015 allegations, according to Zach Smith. Gene Smith, who has been in charge of the Buckeyes’ athletic department for more than a decade, has not publicly commented on the situation.

An Ohio State spokesman said last week that Gene Smith was on vacation but was available to speak to the investigative team if he was needed.

Drake said he didn’t know if Gene Smith was a focus for the investigators.

“The team is investigating this particular set of circumstances, and I don’t know all the questions they’re asking or what they’re going about,” he said. “I’m waiting until they come forward with information. … I don’t know where it’s going or what they’re coming out with.”

Meyer has not been allowed to interact with the football team since practice began in early August. The Buckeyes play their first game of the season on Sept. 1.

ESPN’s Dan Murphy contributed to this report.

Day updates Buckeyes' progress without Meyer

Day updates Buckeyes' progress without Meyer

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s Ryan Day on Friday made his first public comments since taking over as acting head coach while Urban Meyer is on paid administrative leave.

Though Day didn’t speak directly to the media, he sent out a letter through the school and addressed to Ohio State fans updating the Buckeyes‘ progress as they concluded fall camp with two weeks remaining until the season opener against Oregon State on Sept. 1.

“You will be proud to know that our players and coaching staff have attacked each day and forged together as a team,” Day said in a statement posted to the Buckeyes’ official website. “Our program starts and ends with our players, and the leaders of this team are incredibly focused and determined to maximize our talents to be the best team possible when we line up on Sept. 1.

“The energy level the entire group has brought to each day is a testament to the work ethic and perseverance of our program. Our coaching staff has been outstanding driving the program during this camp.”

Day, who also serves as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was named acting head when Ohio State placed Meyer on paid administrative leave on Aug. 1 after the ex-wife of former assistant coach Zach Smith accused Meyer of mishandling past domestic assault allegations she made against Smith.

The university appointed a special working group to review those allegations on Aug. 5. The investigation was expected to conclude two weeks later, which is Sunday.

In Day’s letter, he offered updates on all 10 of the Buckeyes’ position groups, and he discussed replacing long-time starter J.T. Barrett with a quarterback who has yet to register a collegiate start to this point.

Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell have been putting in the work on and off the field to get themselves prepared for an excellent season,” Day said. “We can see the improvement by each of the QBs on a daily basis.”

Meyer named Haskins the starter in June. The sophomore appeared in eight games last season, completing 40 of 57 pass attempts for 565 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He also replaced an injured Barrett in Ohio State’s win at Michigan, completing 6 of 7 attempts for 94 yards.

Day said Haskins and Martell have taken the majority of reps at quarterback, as freshman Matthew Baldwin is recovering from ACL surgery and “won’t be 100 percent for another couple of weeks.”

Day also said that former Buckeyes running back Archie Griffin, a two-time Heisman Trophy winner, recently spoke to the team, and comedian Sinbad also spent an afternoon with the Buckeyes.

Ohio State also held its annual family day last Sunday, which included brunch, a devotion by former receiver Roy Hall and pictures.

The Buckeyes will scrimmage and move out of the team hotel Saturday. They’ll start their daily, in-season practice and preparation next week and will begin fall classes Tuesday.

Day closed his letter by thanking members Ohio State’s administration and athletic department for their “guidance and support.” He also thanked members of the media for their “patience and understanding,” as players or coaches have not met with the media during Day’s two weeks as acting head coach.

“The two main driving forces behind our motivation is the ‘brotherhood’ and the standard of excellence that the former Buckeye players and teams have set before us,” Day said. “The ‘brotherhood’ is the love for our teammates, which is an unbreakable bond and the standard of excellence is a responsibility we take very seriously. We are honored to be Buckeyes and can’t wait to see and hear you in the ‘Shoe on September 1!”