Former Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson used his department's funding to hire an attorney to represent two student-athletes who were accused of sexual misconduct, and then failed to sever ties with the attorney when asked to do so, the university said in a statement provided to The Washington Post.
The Post, citing multiple sources, reported Thursday that the two athletes were football players. The players were not identified. The school launched an investigation into the allegations in June 2017, the Post reported.
A university spokesman told the newspaper that the president's office became aware of Anderson's hiring of an attorney only when it received an invoice for the work. The athletics department paid $15,000 to The Sports Group, with the money coming from Anderson's discretionary account. The account is funded by money donated by boosters, the Post said.
Anderson's actions showed "a serious lack of judgment in a sexual misconduct case, given the university's commitment to a fair and impartial handling of all such matters," the spokesman told the Post on Thursday.
When reached by the newspaper Thursday, Anderson called the Post's report "inaccurate."
Anderson, who took a six-month sabbatical last October, ended up resigning in April for reasons that haven't been made public.
The allegations of sexual misconduct by the players precede recent events that have left Maryland's football program reeling.
In May, offensive lineman Jordan McNair collapsed during a practice session and died two weeks later. Maryland president Wallace Loh apologized to the McNair family and acknowledged that mistakes were made in his treatment during a May 29 workout, and Damon Evans, who succeeded Anderson as AD, said McNair "did not receive appropriate medical care" and the "emergency response plan was not followed."
Strength and conditioning coach Rick Court resigned, and two members of the football staff remain on administrative leave.
Meanwhile, coach DJ Durkin has been on administrative leave since Aug. 11 as the university investigates McNair's death and allegations of abuse and disparagement against Durkin.