Maryland football was the topic of Tuesday’s news cycle after announcing DJ Durkin would be reinstated as head coach following a two-month paid administrative leave. The news was announced at a Board of Regents press conference, along with university president Wallace Loh’s impending retirement, after leaking in the media shortly before.
It was a crazy day, and another chapter in a saga that started and centers around offensive lineman Jordan McNair’s death. Both athletic director Damon Evans and Durkin released statements Tuesday evening.
“DJ Durkin is our head football coach and has all the customary responsibilities along with it. Coach Durkin is focused on ensuring that there is a smooth transition and his priority is the well-being of our student-athletes.”
And here’s what Durkin had to say in his first public comments since being put on leave:
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team and very much appreciate having the support of the Board of Regents. Our thoughts have and will continue to be with Jordan’s family. I am proud that the team has remained united and represented themselves and the University well during this difficult time. As we move forward, I am confident that our team will successfully represent the entire University in a positive way both on and off the field.”
McNair’s parents, Martin McNair and Tonya Wilson held a press conference in response to the Board of Regents’. McNair previously stated that Durkin should not be allowed to coach anyone’s kids, and had more to say Tuesday evening.
"I feel like I've been punched in the stomach, and somebody spit in my face," McNair's father, Martin, said. https://t.co/ztkPOF1e7k— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) October 31, 2018
“The university has an obligation to protect, to educate and to nurture every one of its students and its very first obligation is to the health and safety to the students,” Hassan Murphy, an attorney for the family, said at the press conference. “Yet today, the board ratified and validated the heartbreaking actions by coach Durkin and his staff toward Jordan in May, by continuing the employment of the man who failed in his primary responsibility to Jordan.”
Just a couple hours after then-interim head coach Matt Canada gave the weekly address, Durkin was back in charge of the program and back in the building. He held his first meeting around the same time the press conference was going on, and three players walked out. Offensive lineman Ellis McKennie was reported to be among the three, but later returned to practice, according to Jeff Ermann.
Later, McKennie, also a high school teammate of McNair’s, and defenders Tre Watson and Adam McLean took their displeasure with the decision and the perceived (and actual) lack of accountability to Twitter.
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. pic.twitter.com/AaZVmLGTtS— Ellis McKennie (@emck_cubed97) October 30, 2018
Bruh you know I’m right here with you. Accountability is something people apparently struggle too much with and yet it doesn’t hurt them, but it comes right to us and led to the position we’re in today https://t.co/HoYkAWljJ5— Tre Watson (@MDQue_33) October 31, 2018
My brother Jordan can no longer speak his mind he must live and speak through us https://t.co/3kOS3GR3N3— JUICE MCLEAN (@GodsGift_42) October 31, 2018
On SportsCenter at night, Scott Van Pelt weighed in by saying he wished he was prouder of his alma mater.
SVP is so absurdly profound and I’m beyond thankful to have him as a voice for UMD on such a large platform pic.twitter.com/ugPECnpIXa— Banks (@BarstoolBanks) October 31, 2018
Durkin will be back on the sidelines Saturday when the Terps take on Michigan State. Only time will tell how the team reacts on the field.
More stories and opinions on the last 24 hours of Maryland football news
All of this news comes as Maryland will get ready to take on Michigan State, with outside, and now inside, distractions now reaching a fever pitch.
Elected officials have also reacted to the news of Durkin’s reinstatement and Loh’s June retirement, with the story even reaching the Maryland governor’s race, from The Baltimore Sun.
This is a national story, and as such, every outlet has an opinion on it. Here’s a quick roundup.
The Washington Post: “Perspective: Maryland ought to be ashamed”
The Baltimore Sun: “Illogical regents decision holds everyone accountable and no one accountable at Maryland”
The Ringer: “By Bringing Back D.J. Durkin, Maryland Shows Just How Toxic College Football’s Culture Is”
The Athletic: “Maryland’s main contribution to the Big Ten has been embarrassing leadership” (Subscription)
Even ThinkProgress has a take: “Maryland’s decision to reinstate DJ Durkin is indefensible”
In other news
Men’s basketball won an easy exhibition over Lynn University last night, 100-67. Jalen Smith finished with 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting, with six rebounds and two threes. Here are some pics from the event.
Men’s basketball assistant coach Matt Brady will serve a six-game suspension, that started with the exhibition win, in a self-imposed ban on a rules violation from last season while working with players in a non-coaching role.
“We identified some violations from last season regarding coaching versus non-coaching responsibilities and have decided to self-impose a six game suspension for Matt Brady beginning with [Tuesday]’s exhibition. As a staff, we have cooperated fully with our compliance office to ensure this will not happen again.”