Maryland has fired head football coach DJ Durkin one day after reinstating him.
The news of Durkin’s firing was first reported by The Washington Post’s Rick Maese, who later reported that the school is not firing him for cause but rather buying him out of his contract.
Durkin had been on administrative leave since Aug. 11 as the University System of Maryland Board of Regents oversaw an investigation into his program and coaching methods after media reports detailed allegations of bullying and abuse at the hands of Durkin and strength coach Rick Court in the wake of Jordan McNair’s death in June. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who joined the staff in January, was elevated to interim head coach in Durkin’s absence. In light of Wednesday’s news, Canada is returning to that position.
Durkin came back to the team on Tuesday, and was present at Maryland’s practice. Three player walked out of the team’s first meeting after Durkin returned. According to Bruce Feldman, another group of players was absent from practice Wednesday.
This reversal comes on the heels of calls from across the state for the University System of Maryland Board of Regents to reconsider its decision to recommend Durkin and AD Damon Evans return to their posts. Governor Larry Hogan was one such official.
“While the university system is required by law to operate independent of political influence,” Hogan wrote in a statement, “and as such no governor has the ability to hire or fire any university personnel or members of the Board of Regents, I can and will demand that the university is held accountable for making the reforms they have pledged to put in place with the full transparency that the students, parents, and faculty expect and deserve.”
University president Wallace Loh, who announced Tuesday he would retire in June, reportedly expressed intentions to move on from Durkin in meetings with the Board of Regents, but was pressured into reinstating him (the Board itself does not have the power to fire or reinstate Durkin). At Tuesday’s press conference at which Board chairman James Brady called Durkin “a good man and a good coach,” Loh avoided mentioning Durkin’s name.
“The chair of the Board of Regents has publicly acknowledged that I had previously raised serious concerns about Coach Durkin’s return,” Loh said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
This story will be updated.