University of Maryland-College Park president Wallace Loh is no longer in the driver’s seat of the investigation into football player Jordan McNair’s death.
The University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced Friday that it had voted unanimously to take full control of the investigation into the circumstances behind McNair’s death, which Loh had previously been running.
The board also announced that it would take control of a different commission aimed at scrutinizing the culture of Maryland football, which had been announced by Loh at a Tuesday press conference.
“Earlier today, the Board of Regents was fully briefed by UMCP President Wallace Loh about the circumstances of Mr. McNair’s tragic death, about the actions that have been taken since, and finally about the alarming allegations that have emerged in the last week related to the football program,” Board chair James Brady said in the statement. “After a long and robust discussion, the board voted unanimously to assume responsibility for the investigations into these two separate issues.”
Maryland had accepted ‘full responsibility’ for McNair’s death
McNair died in June after a spring workout in which the 19-year-old offensive lineman collapsed due to severe heatstroke. The conditioning drill was led by former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who later tendered his resignation after an explosive ESPN report revealed a number of galling methods the coach used to abuse and humiliate players during training.
While Court is now gone, the consequences of McNair’s death could reach further up the Maryland chain of command. Head coach DJ Durkin was placed on administrative leave last week as the school continued its investigation into his program and McNair’s parents have been publicly urging the coach be fired.
Loh and athletic director Damon Evans held a press conference Tuesday to reveal the preliminary results of the investigation into McNair’s death, with Loh saying the program’s athletic training staff had misdiagnosed the situation. That conclusion agreed with the findings of medical experts interviewed by the Washington Post.
“The university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes our training staff made on that fateful day of May 29,” Loh said.
Loh had rejected changes to Maryland’s medical practices
While Court and Durkin have received the lion’s share of criticism in the wake of McNair’s death, Loh himself has also come under fire for rejecting a proposal last year that would have overhauled the school’s athletic health care practices.
The proposal called for Maryland to set up a system in which athletic trainers would report from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and given athletes a training staff independent from athletic department in College Park. The changes would have brought Maryland in line with an NCAA measure in 2016 that allowed for schools to “establish an administrative structure that provides independent medical care.”
The Board of Regents announced they were taking over the investigations into McNair’s death after a closed door meeting on Friday where they planned to discuss the future of not just Durkin, but Evans and Loh as well according to Stadium’s Brett McMurphy. While all three men are still employed following the meeting, it seems that the Board will want to have full control of the investigation put in front of it before it decides action.
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