This story has been updated.
Maryland football coach DJ Durkin, who has been on administrative leave since August 11, is expected to return to the sideline on the recommendation of the University of Maryland Regiment, according to a person familiar with the situation. Athletic Director Damon Evans will also return, and Maryland President Wallace D. Loh plans to shake in June in the wake of the controversy that has rocked the College Park campus over the last two months.
The university system planned a news conference on Tuesday afternoon in Baltimore, but this briefing will focus primarily on the proposed reforms that the College Park campus should undertake as part of two independent investigations of the football program under Durkin's leadership. According to four people who were familiar with the situation, the regents urged Loh to allow Durkin to return and Evans to continue his role. One person close to the situation said that Loh knew he would fire immediately if he did not follow the board's recommendations.
In his meeting with the regents last Friday, Loh told the board why he felt I had to move on from Durkin's school.
"It was made clear that if he wanted to stay in his position, he had no choice," said a person close to the situation. "He finally felt that it would have been extremely disturbing for the entire campus if he had just been fired because he did not bring the trainer back to the field …
" The board has no authority, one Hiring and dismissing football coaches but they made it clear that the DJ's return to the field was a top priority. "
It was not immediately clear when Durkin would rejoin the team, with both Loh and Evans joining on Tuesday afternoon As three people were expected to be familiar with the situation, many of the regents were impressed by their personal meeting with Durkin at a board meeting last Friday, and a press conference was due to be expected to be addressed by the university system.
many were convinced that he deserved to stay in his post.
After the supervision of two independent probes and reviewing the results of a 192-page investigative report, the regents deliberated for 11 days before deciding not to take any major immediate human intervention in connection with the controversy surrounding the football program, with many demanding jobs from Durkin and Evans and seeking a revision of the leadership.
The decision marks yet another twist in the most tumultuous phase of the history program, sparked by the death of Jordan McNair in June, a 19-year-old offensive lineman. After the media reported allegations of abuse and bullying within the program, the university initiated a few external investigations and put Durkin into service on August 11.
His status with the team has been in the air ever since some players had parents, supporters and colleagues who support them, and others who demand change. Especially McNair's family had demanded Durkin's dismissal.
"He should not be able to work with someone else's child," said Martin McNair, the player's father, at a performance on "Good Morning America" in August.
In Durkin's absence, the Terps were led by offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who has served as interim head coach since August. Canada has led the team to a 5-3 record.
The school had two high-profile sports coaches – Wes Robinson and Steve Nordwall, a deputy sports director – on administrative leave and made a settlement with Rick Court, the strength negotiator and conditioning coach, who resigned on 13 August. No decisions on Robinson or Northwall were announced.
The regents had given themselves a Tuesday deadline to announce possible action and made their decisions after several days of hand wrestling and internal debates. The Board received the Commission's report on the culture of the football program on 19 October and held five separate meetings to discuss the matter. The highlight was the conference call on Monday.
According to several people familiar with the process, the 17 rulers struggled for days to reach any kind of consensus on what to do, and many changed their mind about Durkin only in the last few days. Some in the room had pushed with Durkin, Evans and Loh, other factions were in favor of keeping only the president. Still others strongly believed that all three should stay in their current roles.
Loh was originally scheduled to meet Robert L. Caret, chancellor of the university system, Monday morning, and Durkin and Evans should also talk to Caret over the phone. But the people who were familiar with the day's events said Loh's meeting had been canceled and there had been no phone call. Higher education officials spent most of the day weighing their options.
The university system consists of 12 public colleges and institutions, but the board is not allowed to rent and fire buses – or make personnel decisions on any campus. The position of the president is the exception, although the rulers in other areas can certainly have strong influence.
"My reading of this is that the president has the authority to handle the staffing issues on campus," Caret Washington Post said in an interview last month. "Of course, the board can influence the president."
The Regent's Board unanimously agreed to take control of the two Maryland Investigations on 17 August. Board Chair James T. Brady then said that the rulers "would make the decisions necessary to protect and support our students, both in college park and on state campus."
The first investigation report focused on the events surrounding McNair's death. This report was submitted to the Board of Regents on September 21 and outlined errors by Maryland employees who pointed out that the school's sports trainers did not correctly diagnose or treat McNair.
The second report came from allegations of abuse and bullying that were originally logged in an August 10 ESPN report. These investigators spent eight weeks interviewing former and current players, parents and school workers. The commission's report was published last week by the likes of The Post, but was officially released by the university system on Monday afternoon. The Commission did not find the culture of the program "toxic" even though it identified multiple incidents of ill-treatment or bullying and accused Durkin of having failed to rein in court.
"If the culture had been malevolent or vicious" Durkin would not have earned the loyalty and respect of many of his athletes and coaches, "the report says." Many of the commission's interviewees found Mr.'s coaching tactics Durkin and Mr. Court as the "big football program".
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