Maryland fires coach DJ Durkin one day after announcing his reinstatement

Maryland has fired coach DJ Durkin just one day after announcing his reinstatement. Word of Durkin’s ouster was widely reported before Maryland president Wallace Loh confirmed it in an open letter Wednesday evening.

“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 D.J. Durkin returning to the campus,” Loh explained in his letter.

“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.”

Rick Maese of the Washington Post, who first reported Durkin’s firing, noted that Durkin will be bought out of his contract as he was not fired for cause. Durkin will be owed $5.1 million for the remainder of his deal, per the USA Today coaching salary database. Athletic director Damon Evans informed Durkin of the decision following practice on Wednesday.

Durkin was reinstated to his job on Tuesday following a recommendation from the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents at the conclusion of its separate investigations into a reported “toxic culture” inside the Terrapins football program and the June death of football player Jordan McNair, who died two weeks after being hospitalized with heatstroke following a team workout on May 29. The board also recommended that the school reinstate Evans to his position.

Loh reportedly clashed with the board over its recommendation to reinstate Durkin, per the Washington Post, but ultimately felt as if he had no other option but to reinstate the coach. During the same press conference in which the board of regents shared its recommendations, Loh announced his pending retirement in June 2019.

Maese further reports that Loh and Maryland “informed the board of regents of its decision but did not consult with the board” in its Wednesday decision to fire Durkin.

The Tuesday decision to reinstate Durkin was immediately met with public backlash from players, media and government officials alike. Maryland governor Larry Hogan released a statement Wednesday calling on the school to reconsider its decision.

Following the announcement that Durkin had been reinstated Tuesday, McNair’s father, Marty McNair, said he felt “like I’ve been punched in the stomach,and somebody spit in my face.”

Durkin was 10-15 during his time at Maryland, including a record of 5-13 against Big Ten teams. The Terrapins have gone 5-3 under interim coach Matt Canada this season, including a mark of 3-2 in conference play. Canada will remain on as interim coach.

The Terps beat Illinois 63-33 last weekend and are scheduled to host Michigan State on Saturday afternoon.

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