DJ Durkin was dismissed by the University of Maryland as its football coach Oct. 31, two months before the end of the year.
But that did not stop Durkin from ranking first on The Baltimore Sun’s list of the state’s highest-paid employees in 2018. At $4.7 million, Durkin made more money last year — by far — than any other public employee in Maryland, according to state comptroller’s office records obtained through a public information request.
Durkin was followed on the list by three other prominent athletic program leaders at the University of Maryland: men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon ($2.8 million), women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese ($1.1 million) and former interim football coach Matt Canada ($1.1 million).
Bartley Griffith, a University of Maryland School of Medicine surgery professor, ranked fifth with $967,000.
Most of the top earners are Caucasian men affiliated with the University of Maryland campuses in Baltimore and College Park.
Only two women are listed in the top 50: Frese at No. 3 and Rajshree Agarwal Tronetti at No. 29. Frese has been a Maryland head coach since 2002. Tronetti is a professor in entrepreneurship and strategy and a founding director of the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets at the University of Maryland.
College football is a multibillion-dollar business, and head football coaches are often the top-paid public employees in their states. Durkin was not among the best-compensated coaches in the Big Ten Conference, which is known for football.
According to a copy of Durkin’s contract, his base salary was $500,000 and he received $1.9 million in supplemental annual income.
But the university was responsible for buying out Durkin's contract after President Wallace Loh fired him on Oct. 31.
An athletics department spokeswoman confirmed that the $4.7 million was due in part to “contractual obligations as part of the termination of his contract.”
Durkin was originally placed on leave last summer after the heatstroke death of 19-year-old player Jordan McNair after a team workout. Despite a recommendation by the university system’s Board of Regents that Durkin return to his job, the coach was dismissed by Loh, who said students, faculty and other stakeholders “expressed serious concerns about coach DJ Durkin returning to the campus.”
University coaches regularly rank in the top five of the state’s highest-paid public employees.
The University of Maryland spent $17.5 million on coaching salaries and benefits in the fiscal year ending last June 30, according to financial statements obtained under a public records request.