Maryland has added head coach D.J. Durkin to the list of coaches who are now on administrative leave.
“I am extremely concerned by the allegations of unacceptable behaviors by members of our football staff detailed in recent media reports. We are committed to fully investigating the program,” athletic director Damon Evans said in a letter on Saturday. “At this time, the best decision for our football program is to place Maryland Head Football Coach DJ Durkin on leave so we can properly review the culture of the program.
“This is effective immediately. Matt Canada will serve as interim head coach.”
Damon Evans has announced Coach DJ Durkin is on leave effective immediately while a thorough examination of our coaching practices is conducted. Matt Canada will serve as interim head coach. We must do better, and we will rebuild a culture of respect in our football program. pic.twitter.com/lQArXIrkeB
— Maryland Terrapins (@umterps) August 11, 2018
The Terps have been rocked by several reports over the past 24 hours from ESPN and other outlets regarding a “toxic” culture that has been established at the program under Durkin and others. The school moved earlier in the day to suspend three others (two athletic trainers and the assistant athletics director for sports performance) involved in the fallout from the tragic death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair after a workout earlier this summer.
While no timetable is given for Durkin’s absence, it could be a lengthy investigation for the school into the entire matter as several state officials have now started to weigh in on what’s been going on in College Park. The team opens the 2018 season against Texas on Sept. 1st.
It remains to be seen if Durkin, who was set to begin his third season in charge and has a 10-15 overall record, will even return amid the serious allegations. In a Washington Post report published Saturday evening, it appears there is a growing sentiment that he will not be able to save his job given the numerous reports that have cast him and the program in such a negative light — to say nothing of a potential lawsuit from the McNair family.
One high-level booster close to the athletic department, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, said Saturday that “a lot of donors are of the opinion that Durkin must go” and that there is mounting pressure on Evans to fire Durkin. Other alumni believe that the independent investigation into McNair’s death must also thoroughly examine the allegations of a toxic culture within the program.
Canada has never been a head coach before but is thrust into a big spot after joining the team as offensive coordinator in January following a stint at LSU in 2017.