Ole Miss adds Durkin to staff

Orlando Sentinel - - NFL - By Ralph D. Russo

For­mer Maryland coach D.J. Durkin, who was fired dur­ing the 2018 sea­son fol­low­ing the death of a player who had col­lapsed dur­ing off­sea­son con­di­tion­ing drills, was hired Thurs­day as an as­sis­tant by Mis­sis­sippi.

Durkin, who spent part of this past sea­son as a con­sul­tant with the At­lanta Fal­cons, will join new Ole Miss coach Lane Kif­fin’s de­fen­sive staff.

Durkin had stints as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at Michi­gan and Florida, build­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as a top re­cruiter, be­fore be­ing hired as Maryland’s head coach at age 37. He went 10-15 in two sea­sons at Maryland, but his ten­ure ended abruptly amid scan­dal.

Ole Miss ath­let­ics di­rec­tor Keith Carter said in a state­ment the univer­sity con­ducted a “thor­ough” back­ground check on Durkin, speak­ing with sev­eral “highly re­spected col­lege foot­ball coaches, ad­min­is­tra­tors and school of­fi­cials.”

“We re­ceived con­sis­tently strong feed­back about Coach Durkin’s strong char­ac­ter and work ethic and his pos­i­tive im­pact on the com­mu­ni­ties and in­sti­tu­tions where he was pre­vi­ously em­ployed,” Carter said, “Once we had the chance to spend time with Coach Durkin, we were even more con­vinced that he is ex­actly the type of ac­com­plished coach with strong foot­ball cre­den­tials who is also a proud and com­mit­ted fam­ily man that will make him a great ad­di­tion to our new staff.”

On May 29, 2018, Maryland

of­fen­sive line­man Jor­dan McNair, a 19-year-old sopho­more, col­lapsed dur­ing con­di­tion­ing drills be­cause of heat-re­lated ill­ness. McNair died on June 13.

An in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­ter­mined ath­letic train­ers on the scene did not fol­low proper pro­ce­dures to treat McNair for pos­si­ble heat­stroke. Durkin was not found re­spon­si­ble for McNair’s death, but he was fired in Oc­to­ber af­ter hav­ing been placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave to start the sea­son.

Re­ports of dys­func­tion in the foot­ball pro­gram emerged af­ter McNair’s death. Durkin and his strength and con­di­tion­ing coach, Rick Court, were ac­cused by some play­ers of cre­at­ing a toxic cul­ture where some play­ers were de­meaned and bul­lied.

Court was put on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave by the school and even­tu­ally re­signed.

Other play­ers and their par­ents sup­ported Durkin and wanted him to re­main Maryland’s coach.


D.J. Durkin, who was fired as Maryland head coach af­ter a player’s death and al­le­ga­tions of player mis­treat­ment, has been hired to work on Ole Miss head coach Lane Kif­fin’s staff.

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