Multiple members of the Maryland football support staff were placed on administrative leave on Friday amid an investigation into the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair earlier this year, the school announced on Friday.
McNair collapsed during a conditioning workout on May 29 due to a heat stroke and was hospitalized. The 19-year-old died on June 13.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the school did not name the individuals who were placed on leave, citing an ongoing investigation. The investigation is expected to be finished by September 15.
“Following the death of Maryland football player Jordan McNair in June, the University of Maryland commissioned an external review of the procedures and protocols surrounding athletes’ health and safety. Pending the final outcome of this review, the university has placed members of the athletics staff on administrative leave,” the school said in a statement on Friday. “We will be able to speak in greater detail when the review is complete and shared with the public. Our thoughts remain with Jordan McNair’s family, friends and teammates.”
According to the Baltimore Sun, DJ Durkin will remain the Terps’ head coach this season. Durkin — who is entering his third year at the helm of the program — was on the field at the time of the conditioning workout on May 29 when McNair was hospitalized.
An ESPN report on Friday detailed a “toxic culture” surrounding the Maryland football program under Durkin, too, even before McNair’s death.
The May 29 workout in question
McNair was participating in an offseason conditioning workout and test overseen by the football program’s strength and conditioning staff on May 29, which included 10 110-yard sprints.
Multiple witnesses told ESPN that McNair was seen having difficulty before the end of the workout and needed two teammates to help him finish the last sprint.
“There were multiple people that said, ‘Wow, Jordan looks f—ed up, he doesn’t look all right,'” a teammate told ESPN. “We knew he was really exhausted, but we didn’t know he was in danger of his life. But that doesn’t mean that a medical professional shouldn’t know to put him in an ice tub.”
Multiple sources said that after the 10th sprint finished, Wes Robinson, Maryland’s longtime head football trainer, yelled, “Drag his ass across the field!”
A second player at the workout told ESPN: “Jordan was obviously not in control of his body. He was flopping all around. There were two trainers on either side of him bearing a lot of weight. They interlocked their legs with his in order to keep him standing.”
Maryland officials have said McNair “was talking to our trainers throughout” and that after the completion of the workout, the trainers “began supporting an active recovery and providing care.”
Multiple sources estimated that trainers walked McNair around for about 80 yards after he started showing distress.
“They tried to walk him for a while after he collapsed,” the second player who spoke to ESPN said. “His head, he barely had control over it. His head was limp to the point where it was back. They were walking him across the field to get him up and moving, I guess. But then they basically took him over to position drills, which took a long time. I didn’t see them bring him in, but it was a while.”
The first player who spoke to ESPN said: “It was a good [distance] for a guy in his state to be walking, and it was away from the athletic training building, away from any resource that he probably needed at the time. Probably 100 percent the opposite way.”
That workout began at 4:15 p.m. According to Billy Murphy, the McNair family attorney, McNair had a seizure around 5 p.m.
According to the ESPN report, a 911 call was placed at 5:58 p.m. that described the 19-year-old as “hyperventilating after exercising and unable to control his breath.”
He was then hospitalized at the Washington Adventist Hospital and listed in “critical but stable condition.” He was later moved to the Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, according to the report, where he stayed until he died nearly two weeks later.
Murphy told ESPN that a lawsuit is likely to be filed, as the timeline from his alleged initial seizure at 5 p.m. and the 911 call nearly an hour later doesn’t add up.
“Our preliminary investigation reveals there is an unexplained one-hour time period when nothing significant was done to avoid the complications of heatstroke,” Murphy told ESPN. “Although there is some evidence they allegedly tried to cool him down, he should have been iced immediately. He presented at the hospital with a temperature of 106, which means he was not cooled down.
“We’re very concerned about the unexplained one hour between the time of the seizure and hyperventilating that was observed by a coach, and what happened in that remaining hour before the EMT people were actually called. This points to an utter disregard of the health of this player, and we are extraordinarily concerned that the coaches did not react appropriately to his injury.”
According to ESPN, all players who participated in the May 29 workout had received medial clearance from team physicians, per Maryland protocol.
“It’s not reasonable that a 19-year-old should pass away,” Maryland coach D.J. Durkin said last month. “It’s not reasonable that a family, parents — his parents Marty and Tony should ever have to go through this. As big as he was stature-wise his heart was much bigger.”
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