Ole Miss has hired former Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin as an assistant coach under head coach Lane Kiffin, the university announced.
The news was first reported by Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel.
Durkin was fired by Maryland in October 2018 after the university reviewed his staff's handling of the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who collapsed on the practice field on May 29 and later died of heatstroke on June 13. Durkin was suspended and placed on administrative leave in August 2018 while the culture of Maryland's football program was being investigated. He was eventually reinstated and then fired about 24 hours later.
Ole Miss' release made no mention of Durkin's firing or the investigation. Thamel reports Ole Miss did a background check on Durkin and the hire was cleared by Kiffin as well as the athletic administration and campus officials.
“As part of our standard vetting process for all hires, the university conducted a thorough background check on Coach Durkin, and we connected with several highly respected college football coaches, administrators and school officials about their experiences working with him," athletic director Keth Carter said in a statement. "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. 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 a great addition to our new staff.”
Durkin was in the third season of a five-year contract worth $12.5 million. He was owed more than $5 million as part of his buyout. Durkin posted a 10–15 record at Maryland and previously coached at Bowling Green, Stanford, Florida and Michigan. Durkin as been consulting for the Atlanta Falcons and other college football programs in his year away from the sidelines.