COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A lawyer from an Alabama-based sports law firm told FOX 5 University of Maryland head football coach DJ Durkin hired him to represent two of Durkin's players accused of sexual misconduct in 2017, contradicting a previous university statement.
On Thursday, The Diamondback, the university's independent student newspaper, first reported about a $15,000 payment to hire attorney Don Jackson.
The Diamondback reported that former athletic director Kevin Anderson hired Jackson, which the university also echoed in a Thursday statement in response to the report. However, Jackson said Durkin hired him and he had little interaction with Anderson.
In Thursday's statement, the university called the hiring of Jackson "a serious lack of judgment" because it set up unequal treatment for the accuser, for whom the university was not providing legal services.
Jackson told FOX 5 he fulfilled his ethical obligations to represent the two football players in their sexual misconduct proceedings, even after the university said it ordered athletics staff to sever ties with Jackson. The attorney said he represented the players until the cases were closed.
According to Jackson, one player was expelled and the other was exonerated. It is unclear if charges were ever filed or if the incident was reported to police.
In response to FOX 5's questions about the situation, a university spokesperson said, "The lawyers continued to represent UMD football players (meeting their ethical obligations), perpetuating an unfair advantage for the accused over their accuser. Even after this inequitable situation was discovered and ordered to be stopped, it continued. This fact was not reported back to the university administration. If it had, other measures to remedy the inequity, such as providing an attorney for the other party, could have been taken."
When asked about Durkin's involvement in hiring Jackson, the spokesperson said, "Only the Athletic Director can make a decision about the use of the Athletic Director's discretionary funds account."
Anderson resigned in April after going on sabbatical.
The university did not respond when asked if Durkin's role is under investigation. He remains on administrative leave after the death of freshman Jordan McNair, who died after suffering heat stroke in May during a team workout.