Just over an hour after the governor of the state laid into the Maryland Board of Regents over their decision to recommend retaining head coach D.J. Durkin, the school has gone in a different direction and bowed to public pressure by firing the embattled coach on Wednesday.
Interim head coach Matt Canada, who has been in charge nearly all season with the Terps, will continue leading the program until the end of the year and will be in charge for the team’s game against Michigan State on Saturday.
Durkin completes his tenure at Maryland with a 10–15 overall record and 5-13 mark in Big Ten play over three seasons. After showing initial promise in his first season with a 6-7 campaign, the Terps took a step back in 2017 following numerous injuries. However, this past summer the coach was suspended indefinitely by the school following the tragic death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair at a workout on campus.
That incident prompted an investigation into both McNair’s death and, following several reports about the football program at large, the overall culture at Maryland. The results of both investigations were presented to the UM Board of Regents in the past month and, while the latter report did not find a “toxic” culture by the dictionary definition of the term, there were numerous incidents uncovered in recent years that called into question the program Durkin was running and the way he was operating as a head coach.
The release of the report intensified calls for Durkin to be fired by Maryland but the chairman of the Board of Regents nevertheless discussed support for the head coach at a press conference on Wednesday. Less than 24 hours later however, the school president had officially reversed that support.
“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 DJ Durkin returning to the campus,” UMD President Wallace Loh wrote in a letter announcing the move. “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.
“This is a difficult decision, but it is the right one for our entire University. I will devote the remaining months of my presidency to advancing the needed reforms in our Athletic Department that prioritize the safety and well-being of our student-athletes.”
According to USA Today, Durkin is owed a buyout of just over $5 million if he were to be fired this season. He was informed of the termination by athletic director Damon Evans after practice on Wednesday.