Maryland football coach DJ Durkin has been officially reinstated as Maryland football head coach and will be on the sideline Saturday against Michigan State, according to an athletic department spokesperson.
Durkin had been on administrative leave since August, after ESPN reported that Maryland football operated with a culture of abuse that may have played a role in the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who suffered heatstroke at a team workout May 29 and died two weeks later.
Following a lengthy investigation, the Board of Regents recommended Tuesday that Durkin return as Maryland’s head coach. The board — which sets policy for all institutions in the University System of Maryland — stated that Durkin was unfairly blamed for athletic department dysfunction and demonstrated a genuine concern for his team’s well-being, despite many players telling an eight-person committee otherwise.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team and very much appreciate having the support of the Board of Regents,” Durkin said in a statement.
“DJ Durkin is our head football coach and has all the customary responsibilities along with it," athletic director Damon Evans said in a statement. "Coach Durkin is focused on ensuring that there is a smooth transition and his priority is the well-being of our student-athletes.”
Multiple media outlets reported that three players walked out of Durkin’s initial meeting back with the team Tuesday.
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada had served as the interim head coach in Durkin’s absence, leading the team to a 5-3 record in eight games this year. Durkin has a 10-15 record in his two seasons in College Park.
The investigation into Maryland football’s culture found Durkin partially responsible for failing to supervise strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, but also said Durkin didn’t receive proper assistance from the athletic department as he adjusted to his first head coaching job and that the team’s culture had no role in McNair’s death.
“[Durkin is] at the beginning of his coaching career with a great deal of promise and much to learn,” Regents Chair James Brady said. “We believe he deserves that opportunity.”