Maryland players refute punter's account that altercation was sparked by DJ Durkin's coaching status

Maryland punter Matthew Barber was assaulted by a teammate after practice on Tuesday, the day that former coach DJ Durkin was briefly reinstated from his leave of absence, according to the Baltimore Sun. Barber was one of the current Terrapins players who spoke out against the culture within the program.

"We take any matters involving physical altercations extremely seriously," athletic director Damon Evans said. "We are talking with the players involved and will take appropriate actions based on the facts."

Barber was reportedly one of the current players who spoke to investigators about the state of the program, which gave pro-Durkin players the opportunity to call out those on the other side for the brief 24 hours that Durkin was reinstated. After practice on Tuesday, Barber's lawyer says starting punter Wade Lees initiated the altercation and other players held Barber's arms as the attack continued. 

"My jersey was bloody," Barber told the Baltimore Sun. "I had blood all over my hands."

However, Lees refutes the claim and said it had nothing to do with Durkin's reinstatement.

"The reports about the altercation between me and Matt Barber are far from the truth," Lees said in a statement. "There are many inaccuracies with the way he portrays that day. Additionally, the altercation had nothing to do with coach Durkin's reinstatement. I have never tried to force my opinions on someone else. I have over 100 teammates that can back me on that."

Defensive tackle Oseh Saine took a similar stance.

"Kid is lying out of his mouth," Saine tweeted. "This altercation had nothing to do with the coach Durkin situation. [It] had everything to do with him picking on a younger players. There were many witnesses and Wade has the total support of everyone here."

The incident allegedly occurred the same day that multiple Maryland players walked out of a team meeting in which Durkin told the players that he was reinstated.

Durkin was fired on Wednesday after a lengthy investigation that was initiated by the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair in June. Since that time, a culture of fear that included mistreatment of players in a variety of ways including workouts that went above and beyond, lack of oversight by Durkin over former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court and embarrassing players.

Maryland president Wallace Loh commented on the change of heart on Durkin's status as head coach in a statement Wednesday.

"Since returning to campus after yesterday's press conference, I have met with the leadership of the Student Government Association speaking on behalf of numerous student organizations; the Senate Executive Committee; Deans; department chairs; and campus leadership. The overwhelming majority of stakeholders expressed serious concerns about Coach D.J. Durkin returning to the campus," Loh said in the statement.

Maryland hosts Michigan State Saturday in College Park.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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