In one of the biggest upsets of the college football season, Maryland announced Tuesday afternoon that DJ Durkin had been reinstated as the football program’s head coach, more than four months after a Terrapins player, offensive lineman Jordan McNair, died on his watch. The decision to reinstate the beleaguered coach came at the behest of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents even as the president of U of M, College Park, Wallace Loh, made it abundantly clear at the press conference this afternoon that he did not support the decision even as he wasn’t required to follow the board’s recommendations.
In a statement Tuesday night, athletic director Damon Evans, who himself survived the scandal to remain on the job, confirmed that Durkin “has all the customary responsibilities along with” being reinstated, meaning the coach will be on the sidelines and in charge of the football team this weekend against Michigan State.
In his own statement, Durkin expressed his gratitude to the board — not the president, who alone has the power to fire him — for its support.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team and very much appreciate having the support of the Board of Regents,” the statement from the coach began. “Our thoughts and prayers 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.”
While Durkin noted that his team has remained united, that doesn’t mean they are all in favor of today’s developments.
Earlier this afternoon, Durkin addressed his players for the first time since he was placed on paid administrative leave nearly three months ago. According to one report, several Terrapins football players walked out of the meeting because of their displeasure with Durkin’s reinstatement.
Additionally, at least one player took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the administration’s failure to hold anyone responsible for his teammate’s death.
With Durkin on leave, offensive coordinator Matt Canada served as interim head coach. During that time, the Terrapins went 5-3 and are currently tied for third place in the Big Ten East at 3-2.
In Durkin’s first two seasons, the Terps went 10-15 (6-7 in 2016, 4-8 in 2017) and finished fifth (3-6) and sixth (2-7) in conference play in 2016 and 2017, respectively.