Not surprisingly, the furor over Maryland’s inexplicable decision Tuesday won’t be dying down anytime soon.
Stating that DJ Durkin “has been unfairly blamed for the dysfunction in the athletic department,” the University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced yesterday that it was recommending that the embattled Durkin remains on as Maryland’s head football coach. While he didn’t have to follow the board’s recommendations, U of M, College Park president Wallace Loh confirmed that Durkin “is coming back” even as he made it abundantly clear during a press conference that he didn’t agree with his own decision.
A handful of football players expressed their displeasure as well, with a couple or several, depending on the report, walking out of a team meeting with Durkin while others took to social media to express their disappointment in the administration’s failure to hold anyone responsible for his teammate’s death.
In a statement Tuesday evening, the University of Maryland Student Government Association expressed “outrage” over the board’s decision and announced that the organization will hold a rally Thursday afternoon that will include a march that ends on the steps of the administration building.
“We demand justice for Jordan McNair,” the group declared.
An investigation found McNair, a Terrapins offensive lineman, 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 had all called for Durkin’s dismissal, with the family reportedly not willing to discuss a settlement with the university until Durkin was removed as the head football coach.
Durkin was placed on paid administrative leave in early August as an independent commission investigated not only the alleged mishandling of the medical event that preceded McNair’s death but a toxic culture within the football program as well.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team and very much appreciate having the support of the Board of Regents,” a portion of a statement from the reinstated head coach read Tuesday night. “Our thoughts and prayers have and will continue to be with Jordan’s family.”
“I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in my face,” McNair’s father, Marty McNair, said in a press conference following the university administration decision to reinstate Durkin.
“Coach Durkin had an obligation to keep his players safe and he failed. Yet, he remains,” the family’s attorney, Hassan Murphy, said in also labeling the board’s decision “callous and indefensible” before adding, “Jordan paid with his life.”
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.