Greenville schools hires coach at center of 2018 abuse allegations

Montcalm County

GREENVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — A man at the center of abuse allegations at the University of Maryland has been hired to the Greenville Public Schools District.

The hiring is causing a lot of controversy.

“Do we want to take a chance with someone that has a documented history of some concerns around culture,” said Jodi Peterson, a Greenville Public School Board of Education member.

As a school board member, Peterson is objecting to the district’s decision to hire Rick Court as its new strength and conditioning coordinator.

He used to be the strength and condition coordinator at the University of Maryland. Court resigned in 2018 following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.

McNair died of heatstroke following a workout Court supervised.

A Maryland report later found that Court was accused of bullying and humiliating players on the team.

An independent investigation revealed Court threw “food, weights and on one occasion a trash can full of vomit” at football players while at the University of Maryland.

It’s a behavior that makes some very uncomfortable and a behavior that didn’t get in his way of joining the team.

“I told him over the phone that he seems like a nice guy on the phone, and I believe he wants to do better going forward, but my stance is the same,” Peterson said. “The concern here is that the reputation leads, and that causes damage to the integrity of the district.”

The Greenville Public Schools superintendent vigorously defended the hire.

Superintendent Linda Van Houten was not available for an interview, but told News 8 over the phone that she and school leaders vetted the accusations and feels they, “have the information needed to ensure that his intentions were always focused around students, and that they were positive and that he could be a positive influence on our students and our district.”

Meanwhile, Peterson said former Maryland head football coach DJ Durkin, who was fired after McNair’s death, may have played a role in helping Court get hired again. Peterson told News 8 his intervention was unsolicited yet persuasive.

“A board member said during the meeting on Monday that he had spoken to Dj Durkin, that coach Durkin had reached out to members of the community in support of Mr. Court and said he would hire him again,” Peterson said.

News 8 reached out to Court but have not heard anything back yet. The superintendent also said she would not connect us with him.

News 8 did contact two men who played under Court’s leadership at the University of Maryland. Both said they do not wish to comment and revisit that part of the past.

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