Ole Miss adds Durkin to staff
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.