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Wallace Loh: Maryland 'Accepts Legal And Moral Responsibility' For Jordan McNair Death

August 14, 2018
University of Maryland president Wallace Loh said Aug. 14 that "the university accepts legal and moral responsibility" for the series of events during a team workout May 29 that led to the death of sophomore offensive lineman Jordan McNair June 13.

Loh indicated he and athletic director Damon Evans drove to Baltimore this morning to speak with McNair's parents, Tonya Wilson and Martin McNair.

"I wanted to express to them in private our apology for their loss of their son," Loh said. "I said I will mention it publicly this afternoon, but I wanted them to hear it directly from me this morning. The university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made on that fateful workout day of May 29, which, of course, subsequently led to his death on June 13."

ESPN reported Aug. 10 that McNair "showed signs of extreme exhaustion" during the workout May 29. He suffered heatstroke during the workout and his body temperature rose to 106 degrees at a local hospital following the workout, according to ESPN. 

The school announced in June that it has hired Walters Inc. to investigate McNair's death. The full report by Walters Inc., which is led by Dr. Rod Walters, is expected to be made public by the university in mid-September. Loh said he and Evans updated McNair's family on the progress of the investigation.

"Based upon what we know at this time, even though the final report is not completed, I said to the family, 'The university owes you an apology. You entrusted Jordan to our care and he is never returning home again,'" Loh said. 

"We have learned that Jordan did not receive appropriate medical care and mistakes were made by some of our athletic training personnel," Evans said. "Specifically in his preliminary observations, Walters found the emergency response plan was not appropriately followed. Second, the care we provided is not consistent with best practices. And third, heat illness was not properly identified or treated. Our athletic training staff did not take Jordan's temperature and did not apply a cold water immersion treatment."

Loh and Evans said steps have been taken to develop a safer environment for players, including more cooling stations.

Loh also announced the formation of a committee to investigate a second report by ESPN about the culture of the program under head coach DJ Durkin, who was placed on administrative leave Aug. 11. Loh said the new committee will be made up of retired judges Ben Legg and Alex Williams, former prosecutor Charlie Scheeler and a soon-to-be-named retired football coach from outside the school.

ESPN detailed a "toxic coaching culture" under Durkin and strength and conditioning coach Rick Court. Loh and Evans said they learned of the allegations about the culture of the football team via media reports. Evans, the administration's former senior liaison to the football program, said he hadn't witnessed any of what was detailed by ESPN.

Evans said the school parted ways with Court, who was reportedly put on administrative leave Aug. 10. Court tweeted that he resigned. 

Loh said his new committee will interview students, players, parents, coaches and staff regarding the culture of the football program.

"We take those reports very seriously but I think due process does require us to lay out the facts, give people a chance to respond and we will act," Loh said. "But this is not going to take forever. This is going to be an expedited but yet very careful review with all the confidentiality, in terms of allowing people to speak confidentially and candidly.

"We will do everything possible so that the situation that Jordan McNair found himself in will never happen again. If we succeed, as I surely hope and expect that we will, we will always keep alive the legacy of Jordan McNair."

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox