Maryland has fired his head football coach DJ Durkin on Wednesday, one day after his reinstatement. University president Wallace Loh announced the decision in a statement Wednesday night.
“This is not at all a reflection of my opinion of Coach Durkin as a person,” Loh said in his statement. “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.”
In a statement provided, Rep. Anthony G. Brown, D-Md., called Durkin’s dismissal “the right decision that had to be made if the (University of Maryland) community was going to ever move forward.”
“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 was fired without cause, according to university spokesperson Jessica Jennings. Under the terms of his contract, Durkin would be owed about $5.5 million. Because the agreement is silent on Durkin having any obligation to find another job, or Maryland being entitled to any offset of that amount, the university likely will have to pay him all of the money.
The agreement was set to run through Dec. 31, 2021, and Durkin would be owed 65% of the $7.8 million remaining on his the deal, or $5.07 million. He will also be owed roughly two months of his $500,000 annual base salary, along with a portion of the $2 million he is receiving as consideration for participating in TV and radio shows, endorsements and for making appearances on the university’s behalf. That comes out to roughly $377,000.
Durkin had returned to his position after more than a two-month absence based on the recommendations of the University of Maryland board of regents. The decision to retain Durkin was met with disapproval from figures ranging from the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, to the father of former Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who died following an offseason workout during the spring.
“I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach, and somebody spits in my face,” McNair’s father, Marty, said Tuesday after Durkin’s reinstatement.
Durkin, who went 10-15 across two seasons, was placed on administrative leave in August following an ESPN report detailing a culture of humiliation and intimidation inside the Maryland program. Maryland promoted offensive coordinator Matt Canada in Durkin’s place. The Terrapins are 5-3 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten Conference play.
Players received a notification on their phones after practice Wednesday telling them there would be a team meeting, Maryland offensive lineman Johnny Jordan told reporters Wednesday night.
“Over the last couple of months, we have had a lot of those,” Jordan said. “We didn’t know what to expect.”
Maryland athletics director Damon Evans told the players of the decision to fire Durkin at the team meeting.
“I did want justice for Jordan (McNair) and I think that the right decision was made,” Jordan said.
Players walked out of a team meeting convened on Durkin on Tuesday night and some players did not attend Wednesday’s practice, the first led by Durkin since August, according to ESPN.
Earlier Tuesday, two Maryland kickers — one a Durkin supporter and the other who spoke out against Durkin — got into an argument during practice, according to McNair family lawyer Billy Murphy Jr.
Murphy, standing beside Jordan McNair’s father, Marty, on Wednesday night, mentioned the upheaval within the team along with backlash in College Park and beyond as factors in Loh making the decision to terminate Durkin.
“Jordan was everybody’s son,” Marty McNair said. “This could have happened to anybody’s child. I think that was the relatable experience for everyone. We don’t send our children away to be bullied, to be called names, to feel inferior. We send our young people away to be developed as young people and have fun while they’re doing it.”