NFL

Maryland fires coach Durkin after reinstatement

The University of Maryland has fired football coach DJ Durkin one day after his reinstatement, the school announced Wednesday evening.

In a statement, president Wallace D. Loh said, “Yesterday, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced numerous recommendations, including employment decisions about specific personnel on our campus. I accepted the Board’s recommendations. At the same time, I announced my retirement as president in June 2019.

“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. The overwhelming majority of stakeholders expressed serious concerns about Coach DJ Durkin returning to the campus.

“The chair of the Board of Regents 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.”

A Maryland player told ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren that athletic director Damon Evans informed the team Durkin was fired in a team meeting. The player said no one asked any questions.

The team was told that Matt Canada will remain the interim coach. Maryland is 5-3 heading into Saturday’s home game against Michigan State.

Durkin, on paid administrative leave since Aug. 11, had been reinstated on Tuesday, following two separate investigations into the football program and five meetings and calls between the 17-member board of regents following the June 13 death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair from heatstroke he suffered at a May 29 workout.

“We feel gratified that some justice has been done, that Dr. Loh took it upon himself to do the right thing,” Marty McNair, Jordan’s father, told SportsCenter on Wednesday night.

The decision to reinstate Durkin had been met with outrage and protests by students, politicians, McNair’s family members and even some of the players themselves.

Ellis McKennie, an offensive lineman for the Terrapins and one of McNair’s closest friends, tweeted his displeasure with Durkin’s reinstatement on Tuesday night:

“Every Saturday my teammates and I have to kneel before the memorial of our fallen teammate. Yet a group of people do not have the courage to hold anyone accountable for his death. If only they could have the courage that Jordan had. It’s never the wrong time to do what’s right.”

McKennie followed up with a tweet Wednesday night after Durkin’s firing was announced, as did teammate Tre Watson.

Congressman Anthony Brown (MD-04) issued a statement Wednesday in which he called the firing of Durkin “the right decision and the decision that had to be made if the UMD community was going to ever move forward.”

Brown continued, “President Loh was the only leader who had the moral fortitude to accept responsibility for Jordan McNair’s death, and I believe he will continue to act boldly and guide the Athletic Department to a safer, more sustainable future that students, student-athletes, and the University of Maryland family can be proud of.”

Durkin went 10-15 in his two seasons as coach of the Terrapins, including a loss in the Quick Lane Bowl in 2016. He was hired by Maryland to succeed Randy Edsall in December 2015 after serving as defensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. Prior to that, he was on the staff at Florida under Will Muschamp and Urban Meyer, who gave Durkin his first coaching job at Bowling Green, Durkin’s alma mater.

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