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Dr. Rod Walters: Best Practices Weren't Followed Regarding Jordan McNair

September 21, 2018
Dr. Rod Walters, who was hired by the University of Maryland in June to investigate the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, said at a news conference Sept. 21 that the school did not follow best practices after McNair showed signs of heatstroke May 29.

Walters' news conference was televised on the Big Ten Network.

The full 74-page report by Walters Inc. was released Sept. 21 and can be read on the University System of Maryland's website.

James Brady, the chair of the USM Board of Regents, said Walters' findings will be given to the eight-person commission tasked with investigating the culture of the football program. Maryland head football coach DJ Durkin remains on administrative leave.

"Once the Board receives the commission's findings, we will be in a better place to make any final decisions or take any actions," Brady said. "We will not act, judge or speculate before all the facts are in."

Walters said the heatstroke suffered by McNair was "atypical." Walters said McNair's issues first surfaced during a set of 10 110-yard sprints at the outdoor practice fields in College Park, Md. McNair "passed" his first seven sprints, but struggled with his eighth and ninth sprints, according to Walters, who added that McNair's teammates had to help him finish his 10th sprint by "holding him on the side."

Walters said McNair initially had lower back pain and back cramps. It took 34 minutes to get McNair off the field after the onset of cramps, according to Walters. Then McNair experienced a "significant change" at 5:50 p.m. May 29, according to Walters, who said McNair began having respiratory issues. 

"At that time, that's when you think you have a heatstroke," Walters said. "They made a call to the physician, then they called 9-1-1. I think at that point, there were definitely efforts to cool. My point was I think if we had done cold water immersion, it would've been more effective. But we did try to cool, and the reason why they didn't do cold water immersion was because [McNair] is a large person. The staff was not as big as he was, and there was concern for his condition to put him in a large, cold whirlpool."

Best practices, according to Walters, are to identify heatstroke within 30 minutes and immerse the person in cold water, which didn't happen May 29. A 9-1-1 call wasn't placed until an hour and seven minutes after McNair first experienced symptoms during his sprints. McNair left campus in an ambulance headed to a local hospital an hour and 39 minutes after the symptoms. 

"The injury evaluation did not include any assessment or documentation of vital signs, including core temperature," Walters said. "There was the failure to identify escalating symptoms associated with exertional heat illness, including assessing vital signs, identifying the condition and aggressively treating the patient's elevated core temperature.

"No apparatus was used for prompt cooling of the patient. Inadequate cooling devices were used, such as cold towels, ice packs, et cetera. The pre-hospital care of exertional heat illness should include rapid recognition, rapid assessment, rapid cooling and rapid advanced care within 30 minutes of the onset of symptoms."

Walters said he used security videos to piece together a timeline of May 29 and that a video of the workout itself was not available. Walters interviewed all of the football coaches, strength coaches, athletic trainers and six football players.

Maryland president Wallace Loh said Aug. 14 that Maryland accepted "moral and legal responsibility" for McNair's death.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox