Following a two-month suspension, the University of Maryland fired its head football coach on Wednesday.
USA Today Sports reports the decision to part ways with coach DJ Durkin came just one day after his Tuesday reinstatement to the team. He was suspended after 19-year-old freshman Jordan McNair died following an offseason workout in late May. Criticism from players, students and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan led to Durkin's firing.
Durkin was first placed on administrative leave August 11 while officials debated his possible departure. Reports claimed Durkin and athletic director Damon Evans oversaw a culture of "toxic behavior" on the football team.
An external investigation concluded the team, although not "toxic," "did have a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out."
CNN reports Jordan, who was an offensive lineman, first showed signs of heatstroke on May 29. A medical report found the player did not receive proper medical attention at the time as he was unable to access appropriate cooling devices, and there was a failure to recognize he was ill quickly.
Board chairman James T. Brady said Durkin had been “unfairly blamed for the dysfunction in the athletic department.” Brady believes the beleaguered head coach should shoulder some of the blame, but "it is not fair to place all of it at his feet."
Outside pressure from the #JusticeforJordan movement forced officials to fire Durkin. Jordan's father, Marty McNair, has been calling for the coach's termination since his son's untimely death.
“Relief, a gratifying sense of relief for not only my family but Jordan’s teammates as well,” Marty said of his reaction to news of the termination, according to CBS Baltimore.
The father of Jordan McNair responds to the firing of DJ Durkin from the UMD football program. pic.twitter.com/WvM4Fil55k— Jason Newton (@JNNewtWBAL) November 1, 2018
University President Wallace D. Loh will implement new reforms to prevent tragedies of this nature from occurring.
“This is not at all a reflection of my opinion of Coach Durkin as a person. However, a departure is in the best interest of the University, and this afternoon Coach Durkin was informed that the University will part ways,” Loh said in the statement.
According to Loh, more cooling stations will be available to players; team staff will monitor players' hydration at practice; breaks will be extended, and there will be a higher medical staff presence at events.
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