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Maryland places DJ Durkin on administrative leave, names Matt Canada interim head coach

The move comes less than 24 hours after ESPN published reports regarding Jordan McNair’s death and the culture within the program.

dj durkin-maryland football-jordan mcnair-espn Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland has placed head football coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave less than a month before the start of his third season. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada will be the Terps’ interim head coach.

The news comes after multiple ESPN reports portraying the program in a negative light. A Friday afternoon story contained firsthand accounts of the May 29 workout after which McNair was hospitalized. A second report detailed a “toxic” culture of fear and intimidation by the coaching staff.

Maryland is also awaiting the results of an external investigation into McNair’s death and how his situation was handled by members of the staff. The investigation is being conducted by Walters, Inc., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 15.

The Terps have also placed strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall on administrative leave, as first reported Saturday morning.

Durkin was hired on Dec. 2, 2015 to replace Randy Edsall. He was previously the defensive coordinator at Michigan and had served in the same position at Florida. The Terps went 6-7 in his first season, doubling their win total from the year prior. In 2017, though, an onslaught of quarterback injuries defined a 4-8 campaign that started with a promising win at then-No. 23 Texas.

Canada was hired in January after former offensive coordinator Walt Bell left for the same position at Florida State. It’s his fourth stop in as many seasons; LSU made him the highest-paid coordinator in the country in 2017 but the two sides parted ways after one season together. Canada has never held a head-coaching job.

University president Wallace Loh released the following statement shortly after Maryland’s announcement:

Dear University of Maryland community,

I am profoundly disturbed by the media reports yesterday about verbally abusive and intimidating conduct by Maryland football coaches and staff towards our student athletes on the team.

Such behaviors contravene the educational mission and core values of our University. They are unacceptable. They will not be tolerated.

All of our coaches and staff who work with our student athletes are also teachers. Our responsibility as teachers is to inspire and enable students to perform at their best and expand the boundaries of their potential, in the classroom and/or on the athletic field. Humiliating and demeaning a student is not only bad teaching and coaching, it is an abuse of the authority of a teacher and coach.

I have directed Athletic Director Damon Evans to take actions necessary to ensure the safety and success of our student athletes. In addition, the University will retain an external expert to undertake a comprehensive examination of our coaching practices in the football program, with the goal that these practices reflect -- not subvert -- the core values of our University.

Today, Athletic Director Evans has placed Head Football Coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave while this comprehensive examination is conducted. This follows Athletic Director Evans’ decision to place other athletics staff members on administrative leave. Matt Canada will serve as Interim Head Football Coach.

The University of Maryland is committed to a football program that is safe and humane, and where our student-athletes are successful in their academic and athletic endeavors. This commitment will be carried out with accountability, fairness, and transparency.

I will follow-up with a progress update on this matter and on the tragic death of Jordan McNair.


Wallace D. Loh

President, University of Maryland

We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.