COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — A fight broke out on the University of Maryland Football team’s practice field Tuesday in the wake of DJ Durkin’s firing.
The University of Maryland Police Department is now investigating an altercation between players.
According to police, an athletics employee told an officer at the practice facility that there was a fight on the field.
The officer spoke to both parties involved and a witness and it was determined that a verbal altercation turned physical.
“We take any matters involving physical altercations extremely seriously. We are talking with the players involved and will take appropriate actions based on the facts,’ said Maryland Athletic Director Damon Evans.
When police reviewed the surveillance footage, they saw the altercation.
Backup punker Matthew Barber said he was assaulted at the end of practice by punter Wade Lees — a supporter of Durkin — according to WJZ media partner The Baltimore Sun.
Barber, 21, has spoken out against the culture of the program told the Sun he believes he was attacked for “whistleblowing.”
Lees acknowledged the altercation on Twitter but said disputed how it was reported.
“The reports about the altercation between me and Matt Barber are far from the truth. There are many inaccuracies in the way he portrays that day. Additions, 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,” Lees tweeted.
According to WUSA9, other players also said reports the fighting was over Durkin’s reinstatement were “bull.”
“It’s bull. It didn’t happen. He threw the first punch & now he’s mad because he got his butt kicked. He’s trying to blame it on the whole situation” one current player on the Maryland football team told WUSA9.
“This is absolutely fake. kids lying out his mouth, this altercation had nothing to do with the coach Durkin situation had everything to do with him picking on a younger players. There were many witnesses and wade has the total support of everyone here,” Oseh Saine, junior defensive lineman tweeted.
“This piece of fabrication is an absolute joke and mockery of our team! Not gonna affect us moving forward in any way,” tweeted Tre Watson.
“All 100+ players are behind this man. He was standing up for younger teammates who were being ridiculed and bad mouthed. Do not always believe what you see on Social Media. The truth always wins, #FakeNews,” tweeted Jake Funk, junior running back.
Barber told the Sun that when Durkin was reinstated Tuesday the teammates who supported the coach were taunting him.
He said some threw footballs at him and at the end of practice Lees attacked him, according to the Sun. The players who tried to intervene held Barber’s arms behind his back, he said, allowing Lees to “punch Barber repeatedly in the face, leaving him with a black eye, needing multiple stitches on his forehead and a dislocated shoulder.”
“My jersey was bloody,” Barber told the Sun. “I had blood all over my hands.”
One student was treated by athletics staff on scene. Another student, who sustained minor injuries, didn’t seek medical attention, police said.
Barber has hired Baltimore attorney Billy Murphy’s firm as representation.
An investigation is underway.