Maryland regents to discuss athlete Jordan McNair’s death

Maryland football player died from heat stroke
University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair died after he went untreated for heat illness.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents is meeting Friday to discuss how campus officials handled the death of 19-year-old football player Jordan McNair, while his father is calling for the team’s head coach to be fired.

The offensive lineman suffered a heatstroke during a practice in May. He did not receive proper medical care at the time, and some members of the training staff made mistakes, according to preliminary results of an independent review.

McNair died June 13, two weeks after taking part in the workout at Maryland’s outdoor practice fields. Last week, the university placed its head football coach, D.J. Durkin, and members of the athletic staff on administrative leave pending the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death.

McNair’s father told CNN’s “New Day” on Friday that he wants Durkin to be fired.

“He needs to go,” Martin McNair said, as CNN’s Erica Hill interviewed him and Jordan’s mother, Tonya Wilson.

“Coach Durkin, he sat at our table (when he was recruiting Jordan) and we basically gave our child’s welfare over to him,” the father said. “And he promised … that (he would) take care of (Jordan).

“Anything but that was done.”

The preliminary findings of an external review, which will be made public in September, found that an emergency response was not followed in McNair’s case and the care the university provided was not consistent with best practices, Athletic Director Damon Evans said Tuesday.

McNair’s heat illness was not promptly identified, and athletic training staff did not take his temperature and apply a cold-water immersion treatment, Evans said.

The 17-member Board of Regents is appointed by the governor, and includes one student. The regents help oversee the system’s academic, administrative and financial aspects, and also help develop policy.

The university has also parted ways with its strength coach, Rick Court, Evans said.

Evans announced the preliminary findings hours after he and university President Wallace D. Loh met with McNair’s family and shared the findings with them.

University says it accepts legal and moral responsibility

The two officials apologized to McNair’s family during that meeting in Baltimore and issued public apologies Tuesday.

Loh said he told the family the “university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made on that fateful workout day.”

Loh said he also told McNair’s family: “The university owes you an apology. You entrusted Jordan to our care, and he is never returning home.”

A lawyer for McNair’s parents, Billy Murphy, said Friday that Loh’s statements mean the university will not fight its culpability under the law.

“What is remaining is whether, and to what extent, the university is willing to compensate the family for this grievous harm. And the answer to that is yes, they are,” Murphy said. ” And the question is: When will that be? And that’s going to be a process.”

Since McNair’s death, the university has given more training to athletic training staff and increased the number of breaks and cooling stations during practice, officials said.

The 325-pound offensive lineman from Randallstown, Maryland, appeared in one game last season as a true freshman but ended up redshirting, hoping for a starting spot this year, according to the Bleacher Report.

Court said he will cooperate with university investigations and “be transparent.”

“Jordan McNair’s life and death are what we must all remember to put first as we face the future. What did we learn? …. The gravity of the situation has deeply impacted my perspective on ‘the why’ I am coaching,” Court said a statement.

A second external review

The review into McNair’s death and procedures and protocols surrounding athletes’ health and safety is one of two inquiries the university is undertaking.

A four-person commission — which includes retired judges, a lawyer experienced with handling NCAA integrity issues and a former football coach — will review “the practices and the culture” of the football team in the wake of allegations in a recent ESPN report, Loh said.

The ESPN report detailed what it described as a culture of intimidation, bullying and humiliation within the football program.

Evans said he had not “witnessed any behavior” described in the ESPN report.