Ole Miss hires former Maryland coach Durkin as assistant

Former Maryland football coach D

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 up a reputation as a top recruiter, before being hired as Maryland head coach at age 37. He went 10-15 in two seasons at Maryland, but his tenure ended abruptly amid scandal.

On May 29, 2018, 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.

The school commissioned an investigation into the culture of the football program under Durkin and the board of regents decided to retain the coach, saying he was "unfairly blamed for the dysfunction in the athletic department.”

The next day, Halloween 2018, facing scrutiny and criticism from the public and politicians, University of Maryland president Wallace Loh fired Durkin.

Durkin has been out of college coaching since.

Ole Miss also announced the hirings of Chris Partridge, who had been the safeties coach at Michigan, and Joe Jon Finley, who had been tight ends coach at Texas A&M.

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