DJ Durkin, center, watches as Tyrell Pigrome takes a snap during the 2017 Spring Game. Photo courtesy Maryland Athletics.

USM Board of Regents recommends Durkin, Evans and Loh retain positions; Loh announces retirement in June

BALTIMORE – The University of Maryland Board of Regents announced Tuesday afternoon its recommendations for Maryland head football coach DJ Durkin, athletic director Damon Evans and university President Wallace Loh to keep their positions.

The decision was announced by USM Board of Regents Chair Jim Brady, following a 10-week investigation into the culture of the Maryland football program. An August ESPN article reported an alleged “toxic” culture under Durkin’s watch, amidst the June 13 death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair. Durkin was subsequently placed on administrative leave one day later on Aug. 11.

Brady delivered findings from the eight-person commission investigating the culture, which concluded that while the program was not toxic, it lacked accountability and was filled with dysfunction.

Loh also announced his retirement as University President in June following the current academic year.

With the Washington Post reporting that Loh wanted to part ways with Durkin, Brady was asked if it was a situation of letting Durkin or Loh go. Brady deflected and allowed Loh to answer.

“I have accepted the Regents recommendations in full,” Loh said before walking away.

While Brady stated that Durkin, Evans and Loh shared responsibility for the dysfunction in not only the football program, but the athletic department, he said he believed all three were forthcoming when speaking to the board and are committed to addressing the issues outlined by the commission.

Brady said that Evans, who was promoted to athletic director in June after previously serving as deputy and interim athletic director, is the “right person” to move the athletic department forward at this time. Brady also said that Durkin, who is in his third year as head coach, was “unfairly blamed” for the dysfunction within the athletic department.

“The board accepts,” Brady said, “that during football coach DJ Durkin’s tenure, the athletics department lacked a culture of accountability, did not provide adequate oversight of the football program and failed to provide Mr. Durkin with the tools, resources and guidance necessary to support and educate a first-time head coach in a major football conference.

“What happened to Jordan McNair was tragic and heartbreaking. At the same time, the commission found no direct link between the administrative dysfunction in the athletics department and Jordan McNair’s death.”

The Board of Regents assumed control of two investigations: the first looked into the medical practices of McNair at the May 29 workout where he collapsed after suffering from heatstroke, while the second focused on the reported toxic culture.

The results of the second investigation were shared with the board on Oct. 19, discussed amongst the board on Oct. 23 and the board accepted all the recommendations and findings on Oct. 30.

Brady also announced the launch of an independent monitoring group, which will not only oversee the implementation of new policies within the football program, but the entire athletic department.

“Working with the chancellor, the independent monitor will provide full and unhindered access to the university athletic department, including its personnel, facilities, practices and games,” Brady said.