Maryland president confirms DJ Durkin ‘is coming back’ as several players reportedly walk out of meeting with head coach

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UPDATED 4:23 P.M. ET: With the board chair’s words preceding him — “We believe [DJ Durkin] has been unfairly blamed for dysfunction within the athletic department” — University of Maryland, College Park president Wallace Loh confirmed at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that Durkin “is coming back” as Maryland’s head football coach and that it’ll be up to athletic director Damon Evans, who’s being retained as well, whether or not Durkin will be back on the sidelines Saturday..

The decision to bring Durkin back, however, reportedly isn’t sitting well with all members of the football roster.

Loh also confirmed that he will be retiring at the end of the current academic year, in June of 2019.

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UPDATED 2:38 P.M. ET: Not long after we posted the story below, a rather significant development surfaced in which it’s being reported that DJ Durkin will indeed remain on as the Terps head football coach and the man charged with making that decision, president Wallace Loh, will retire next June.

(The original story appears below.)

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This would certainly be some turn of events if it ultimately comes to fruition.

Late last week, not long after receiving a 200-page report that was the result of an investigation into allegations of a toxic culture within the football program, it was reported that the University System of Maryland Board of Regents would recommend moving on from DJ Durkin as the Terrapins head coach.  With the board set to hold a previously-announced press conference at 3:30 ET this afternoon, the Washington Post is now reporting that the regents are instead expected to recommend that Durkin, along with athletic director Damon Evans, remain in their respective positions.

The Post wrote that, “[a]ccording to two people familiar with the situation, many of the regents were impressed by their in-person meeting with Durkin at a board meeting last Friday, and many were persuaded that he deserved to remain in his post.”

It should be noted, though, that the regents do not have the authority to hire and fire university employees such as the head football coach; that responsibility falls to the leadership of the individual university.  In this case, that would be U of M, College Park president Wallace Loh, and it’s unclear at this point in time in which direction the leadership at that university will head.

The developments come more than four months after the death of Terps offensive lineman Jordan McNair during a football workout.

Durkin, two members of the training staff and head strength & conditioning coach Rick Court were placed on administrative leave — Court ultimately accepted a buyout — in early August after a bombshell report alleged mishandling of the medical event that preceded McNair’s death as well as a toxic culture within the football program.  That report described the toxic culture under Durkin as one based on fear, intimidation, belittling, humiliation and embarrassment.  Players were, allegedly, routinely subjected to what was described as extreme verbal abuse that included, in part, obscenity-laced epithets meant to mock their masculinity.

The commission charged with investigating the culture of the program, the Post wrote today, “did not find the culture of the program to be ‘toxic,’ though it did identify several incidences of abusive or bullying behavior and faulted for Durkin for failing to rein in Court.” “Many players interviewed by the Commission felt Mr. Durkin’s and Mr. Court’s coaching tactics reflected those of a ‘big-time football program,” the report stated.

It has been alleged McNair was showing signs of distress before he collapsed during a workout, with Durkin in attendance, in late May, dying a little over two weeks later of what his family described as heatstroke.  McNair’s attorney and his parents have all called for Durkin’s dismissal, with the family reportedly not willing to discuss a settlement with the university until Durkin is removed as the head football coach.

Durkin has not coached in any of Maryland’s seven games this season as he remains on administrative leave. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has served as acting head coach for the 5-3 Terrapins.