SportsPulse: University of Maryland officials held a news conference on Tuesday in which they took responsibility for the death of Jordan McNair.
TOWSON, Md. — An athletic trainer ordered interns to “drag” Jordan McNair across the field during the practice where the 19-year-old linebacker fell, according to a report released Friday on McNair’s death.
The independent investigation commissioned by the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents found a series of shortfalls as Maryland’s training staff failed to detect or quickly treat McNair for heat illness during a May 29 practice. McNair died on June 13.
No decision was made on the future of head football coach DJ Durkin, who was placed on leave in August after an ESPN report alleged that he fostered a culture of intimidation and humiliation. After emerging from a lengthy closed-session board meeting, USM Board of Regents Chair James Brady said personnel decisions won’t occur until the second investigation that focuses on Durkin’s conduct is concluded.
Brady said that second investigation would be concluded “soon.”
Head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson “yelled at the interns to drag (McNair) across the field,” one of the Maryland football players who was not identified told investigators. At that point of the practice, the player said McNair “could barely stand.”
“The coaches preach a ‘no quit’ mentality,” the same player added. “No one wants to go to the Pit (area of practice for injured players). The Pit is no joke, and players avoid this at all costs.”
Ex-Maryland strength coach Rick Court, who was hired by Durkin, resigned in August and members of the training staff were placed on leave.
McNair became ill during sprints, although it took 34 minutes before he was removed from the field after he first showed symptoms, according to the report. He was placed in an ambulance 1 hour, 39 minutes later as his condition deteriorated and he began to suffer seizures.
The Board of Regents took over control of the investigation into McNair’s death along with the bullying investigation of Durkin on Aug. 17. The two investigations had previously been led by the University of Maryland and school president Wallace D. Loh told reporters on Aug. 14 that “the university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made on that fateful workout day of May 29.”
Longtime athletic trainer Rod Walters was tapped to lead the McNair investigation and told reporters that McNair’s case was “an atypical presentation of a heat stroke.”
Walters said that a review of Maryland’s action plan policy “meets guidelines” and the schools’ heat illness procedure “meets standards, but there were concerns outlined in the report.”
Walters recommended changes, many of which Maryland has already put in place.
The regent’s investigation of Durkin’s actions remains ongoing.