OXFORD • Ole Miss athletics director Keith Carter says a new football assistant coach who was terminated at Maryland following the death of a player received a “thorough” background check before being added to the staff of new Rebels coach Lane Kiffin.
D.J. Durkin was placed on administrative leave at Maryland in August of 2018 amid an investigation after a player, Jordan McNair, was hospitalized and later died following a spring workout. McNair had shown signs of heatstroke, according to reports.
The Maryland administration actually reinstated Durkin on Oct. 30, 2018, but after public outcry he was fired the next day.
“As part of our standard vetting process for all hires, the university conducted a thorough background check on Coach Durkin,” Carter said in a statement released on Thursday. “We connected with several highly respected college football coaches, administrators and school officials about their experiences working with him.
“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.”
Those discussions led Carter to believe Durkin would be an acceptable choice for the staff being assembled by new coach Lane Kiffin.
Durkin was one of three coaches announced by Ole Miss on Thursday. (Read more, 5B)
Responsibilities for the coaches have not been announced.
“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 staff.”