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Maryland Fires DJ Durkin

October 31, 2018
Maryland head football coach DJ Durkin was fired Oct. 31, university president Wallace Loh announced.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents recommended Oct. 30 that Maryland reinstate Durkin, who had been on leave since Aug. 11, and keep athletic director Damon Evans in his position. Loh followed those recommendations, and Durkin returned to the football team Oct. 30. But the school and Board of Regents faced heavy backlash for the decision to retain Durkin. 

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement Oct. 31 in which he called for "the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and President Wallace Loh to reconsider their decisions and schedule a public hearing to address these issues in an open and transparent manner." Multiple Terps players reportedly walked out of Durkin's team meeting Oct. 30. 

Loh explained his decision to fire Durkin in his announcement.

"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," Loh's statement read. "The overwhelming majority of stakeholders expressed serious concerns about Coach DJ Durkin returning to the campus.

"The chair of the Board of Regents [James T. Brady] has publicly acknowledged that I had previously raised serious concerns about Coach Durkin's return. This is not at all a reflection of my opinion of Coach Durkin as a person. However, a departure is in the best interest of the University, and this afternoon Coach Durkin was informed that the University will part ways.

"This is a difficult decision, but it is the right one for our entire University. I will devote the remaining months of my presidency to advancing the needed reforms in our Athletic Department that prioritize the safety and well-being of our student-athletes."

Durkin was not fired for cause, according to The Washington Post, meaning Maryland will have to buy out its former head coach. The Washington Post also reported that offensive coordinator Matt Canada will continue in his role as interim head coach. The Terps have gone 5-3 under Canada thus far and are one win away from bowl eligibility.

Durkin was first placed on administrative leave after ESPN reported Aug. 10 that 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who died June 13 as a result of heatstroke, "showed signs of extreme exhaustion" during his final workout May 29 and that the football program had a "toxic coaching culture" under Durkin and strength and conditioning coach Rick Court. Loh said Aug. 14 that the school accepted "moral and legal responsibility" for McNair's death and announced the formation of a committee to investigate the culture of the football program. 

The commission's report to the Board of Regents  concluded that "the Maryland football team did not have a 'toxic culture,' but it did have a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out." The Board announced its recommendation to retain Durkin during a news conference in Baltimore Oct. 30, but the school reversed course a little more than 24 hours later.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox