Ole Miss football announced Thursday that former Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin will join Lane Kiffin’s coaching staff as an assistant coach, which raised concerns on social media.
Maryland fired Durkin in October 2018 in the wake of an investigation surrounding the death of Jordan McNair, who died in June 2018 because of heatstroke. Durkin was suspended, reinstated and then fired.
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While two independent investigations determined that Durkin was not at fault for McNair’s deaths, the school determined that there was a “significant dysfunction in the management of the athletics department.” Additionally, ESPN reported there was a “toxic culture” around the football program, including a “coaching environment based on fear and intimidation,” the “belittling, humiliation and embarrassment” of players and “extreme verbal abuse of players.”
Sources told Yahoo Sports that Ole Miss was comfortable with the hire after an extensive background check.
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“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,” Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter said in a statement. “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.”
Marty McNair, Jordan’s father, commented on the hiring.
“I just wish the best for Durkin and his family,” he told ESPN. “We wish the best for him and his family and hope he’ll take what happened at Maryland as a serious life lesson in dealing with other people’s kids.”
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Social media users raised concerns about the hiring.
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Durkin was 10-15 at Maryland before his firing. Maryland had been paying Durkin’s $5 million buyout since the dismissal. Durkin consulted the Atlanta Falcons last season.