DJ Durkin’s reinstatement stirs uproar within Maryland community

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The University of Maryland announced on Tuesday that football head coach DJ Durkin will return after being on 80-day administrative leave while the school investigated the culture of the football program, which was started by tragic death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.

In addition to Durkin being reinstated, athletic director Damon Evans will keep his job while school president Wallace Loh will plans to retire in June.

The announcement of Durkin’s returned to the sidelines brought uproar and anger within the Maryland community, who thought the board of regents would fire Durkin and Evans.

“I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach, and somebody spit in my face,” Marty McNair, Jordan’s father, told ESPN.

According to the Washington Post, three players walked out of Durkin’s meeting with the team on Tuesday. Offensive lineman Ellis McKennie tweeted out his displeasure for the school’s decision and voiced his continued support for his fallen teammate.

Freshman offensive lineman Tyran Hunt showed his support for McKennie’s tweet and even said “a paycheck was chosen” over McNair’s life.

Maryland’s student government organization plans to host a rally on Thursday to protest Durkin’s reinstatement, according to ESPN.

“People are appalled at this,” Maryland’s student president Jonathan Allen said. “When I spoke to stakeholders — media, alums, donors — over the last few months, as this has been transpiring, they all said there’s no way Durkin comes back from this. And yet he’s returning and the president is the one that’s leaving?”

“When the system fails, the next obvious step is a grassroots push, being vocal and showing the outrage and sentiments students have had with these decisions,” Allen continued.

Durkin will be coaching the Terps in their game against Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. Maryland has a 5-3 record this season under offensive coordinator and interim head coach Matt Canada.

“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 provided to the Washington Post. “Our thoughts have and will continue to be with Jordan’s family. I am proud that the team has remained united and represented themselves and the University well during this difficult time. As we move forward, I am confident that our team will successfully represent the entire University in a positive way both on and off the field.”

For 10 weeks the board of regents did an investigation on McNair’s death and the “toxic” culture surrounding the football program. The investigation led to the discovery of Maryland’s coaching staff failing to properly treat McNair when he was suffering a heat stroke during practice on May 29. The board also identified cases of bullying and abuse surrounding strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who resigned back in August.

James Brady, chair of Maryland’s Board of Regents, told the ESPN that the school takes responsibility for McNair’s death and Evans should have a chance to lead the athletic department through this situation.

“We believe that Mr. Evans should be given the opportunity to lead the athletic department,” Brady said to ESPN, “and accordingly recommend to the university leadership that he be given that opportunity. We believe he is the right person to move the department forward at this critical time.”

Maryland’s decision ultimately doesn’t do anything except makes matters worse for the school and McNair’s parents, who continue to grieve for their son.

“I miss my son every day, and today, it just didn’t help,” McNair’s mother told the Washington Post. “It didn’t help at all.”

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About Ryan McFadden, @RMcFadden15 417 Articles
Founder of Inside The Locker Room and Sports Editor for the Ionian. I write about the Washington Nationals for Federal Baseball. Iona College class of 2019 and proud DeMatha alum. Follow me on Twitter @RMcFadden15.

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