Maryland Blamed for NCAA Player's Death After Investigation


An independent report on the treatment of Maryland’s Jordan McNair was released Friday, and the blame for his death is being put on the school’s athletic trainers.

McNair, 19, died June 13 after suffering a heat stroke during practice two weeks earlier. The report from Walters Inc. states that there was a delay of 34 minutes between when McNair first started cramping to the time he was taken off the field.

There was also a delay of 1 hour and 7 minutes from the onset of symptoms until 911 was called, and it took another 32 minutes before he left in an ambulance.

“There was a failure to identify symptoms and aggressively treat it,” sports medicine consultant Dr. Rod Walters said while addressing the report’s findings.

Talia Richman of The Baltimore Sun reproduced a timeline from when the Maryland practice began to when the ambulance arrived at the hospital.

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Maryland’s head athletic trainer, Wes Robinson, was questioned as to why McNair wasn’t placed in a cold whirlpool to help lower his body temperature. Robinson said there was a fear of drowning due to the smaller stature of the athletic trainers who were assisting the 6-foot-5, 325-pound McNair.

The role of Maryland’s head coach, D.J. Durkin, was not discussed in the report, according to Walters.

“He didn’t provide any care,” Walters said. “My deal was the procedures specific to the protocol at the University of Maryland and were they followed that day.”

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Robinson and the director of athletic training, Steve Nordwall, were placed on administrative leave last month.

Durkin was also placed on administrative leave as the school investigates allegations of abuse and disparagement in its football program.

No decision has been made regarding Durkin’s fate as James Brady, chairman of the University System of Maryland board of regents, is waiting for more information.

“The death of this young man is a tragedy, let there be no doubt about it, and we all feel very deeply about that,” Brady said Friday. “But we are in the process of gathering facts, and I’m a fact guy. I like to know what the facts are before we make any conclusions.”

Last month the parents of McNair called for Durkin to be fired, which would cost Maryland about $6.5 million to buy him out of his contract that runs through 2021.

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McNair’s parents also have submitted a “notice of claim forms” to attorney Hassan Murphy and his law firm. The forms are formal letters notifying the state of the parents’ intent to sue, although they don’t guarantee that a lawsuit will be filed.

The filing claims damages in excess of $10 million for each parent in addition to $10 million to Jordan McNair’s estate, bringing the total liability to more than $30 million.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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