Maryland Owes Fired Football Coach $5.6 Million After Flip-Flop

(Bloomberg) -- The University of Maryland’s decision to fire embattled football coach D.J. Durkin one day after saying he would be reinstated won’t be cheap.

The school owes Durkin about $5.6 million in severance, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of his contract, after he was let go late Wednesday in the fallout over the death of a player.

The university’s board of regents recommended earlier this week that Durkin and Athletic Director Damon Evans be reinstated even after an investigation found the department was responsible for Jordan McNair’s death. President Wallace Loh accepted the regents’ decision on Tuesday, then reversed course after an outcry from fans, boosters, media, students and politicians.

“This is a difficult decision, but it is the right one for our entire university,” Loh said in a statement. “I will devote the remaining months of my presidency to advancing the needed reforms in our athletic department that prioritize the safety and well-being of our student-athletes.”

Durkin was fired without cause, meaning he’s owed the hefty buyout. His contract, obtained by Bloomberg News through open-records requests, calls for him to be paid 65 percent of what’s left on his five-year deal if the school ends the deal. That will come to about $5.6 million. The university didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

McNair, a 19-year-old lineman, collapsed on the Maryland practice field in May and died of heatstroke. In the aftermath of his death, ESPN published a report describing the “toxic culture” within the football program, and in August Durkin was placed on leave.

An independent investigation into the football team under Durkin found “a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out.” Another investigation found the university culpable in McNair’s death.

Durkin’s severance won’t be the only financial hit for the school. Strength coach Rick Court was reportedly paid $315,000 when he stepped down in August. There’s also the possibility of a bigger financial penalty should McNair’s family sue.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.