More than two years after Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair died from heatstroke in a football workout, the college has agreed to a settlement totaling $3.5 million together with his parents, Marty McNair and Tonya Wilson.
The amount, that was made public on Friday at a meeting agenda released by the Maryland Board of Public Works, must be accepted at the board's Jan. 27 meeting.
"This has been a long and painful fight, but we will try to find closure although this is a wound which will never, ever fully cure," Marty McNair and Tonya Wilson stated in a joint statement issued by their attorney. "We're focused on honoring Jordan's legacy so that his death wasn't in vain. Including protecting student athletes of all levels of competition, increasing awareness, education, and avoidance of all heat related illnesses, empowering student athletes, and even introducing legislation nationwide so that no parent should have to wait this long for closure in which their child was treated unfairly or unjustly."
In Maryland, tort laws in the state court limit payments to $400,000. The alternative is to file in federal court, where there's a much greater burden of proof.
Jordan McNair, a 19-year-old from Randallstown, Maryland, dropped through an outdoor Terrapins workout on May 29, 2018 -- the very first conditioning practice of his sophomore season. He died two weeks later, on June 13. Questions surrounding McNair's death began after an Aug. 10 ESPN report where many Maryland soccer players and individuals close to the application described a training culture based on fear and intimidation under former trainer DJ Durkin. The allegations based around Durkin and former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who was among Durkin's initial hires at Maryland at January 2016 and stepped on Aug. 14, 2018.
The reported episodes of intense verbal abuse, with food punitively and commonly belittling and humiliating players prompted two extended outside investigations into Maryland's football program.
"How was so trusting of these coaches who sat at our table prior to registering promising to treat him as one of their own?" Marty McNair wrote in his recently published book,"Can My Child Play?" "These very same coaches who didn't possess the integrity to call us and tell us Jordan got hurt on the first day of conditioning exercises. The identical coach that didn't ride in the ambulance to the hospital with his son, after promising us that he'd protect him.
"I made the wrong decision about who to trust with the item that mattered most to me personally on earth."
The May 29 work out, which was coordinated and directed by the Maryland strength and conditioning staff, began at 4:15 p.m. ET. McNair and other linemen were near the end of their sprint set when McNair started having apparent difficulties, according to multiple sources.
Multiple witnesses in the workout told ESPN that McNair had bodily difficulty before the work ended and needed just two mates to help him complete the 10th sprint.
"There's no way he completed on his own," among the players at the work told ESPN.
"There were multiple individuals who said,'Wow, Jordan looks f--ed ; he doesn't seem all right,'" the player said. "We knew he was really tired, but we did not know he had been at risk of his own life. But that doesn't imply that a medical practitioner shouldn't know to place him into an ice bath."
Multiple sources said that after the 10th sprint ended, Wes Robinson, Maryland's former longtime head football trainer, yelled,"Drag his bum throughout the area!"
Another participant at the workout informed ESPN:"Jordan was clearly not in control of his body. He was flopping all around. There were two coaches on both sides of him bearing a great deal of weight. They interlocked their legs with his to be able to keep him standing."
A number of sources estimated that coaches walked McNair around for about 80 meters after he began showing distress.
"They tried to walk for a little while after he fell," the second player who spoke to ESPN said. "His mind, he barely had control over it. His mind was limp to the point where it had been back. They were walking across the field to get him up and moving, I figure. But then they essentially took him over to position drills, which required a long time. I didn't see them in, but it had been a while."
The first player who talked to ESPN explained:"It was a good [distance] to get a guy in his state to be walkingand it had been off in the athletic training building, away from any resource he probably needed at the moment. Probably 100 percent the opposite manner."
A 911 call recording obtained by ESPN demonstrates at 5:58 p.m., an unidentified male described McNair as"hyperventilating after exercising unable to restrain his breath."
"I tried to keep my composure until we got to the hospital, but I could not stop asking myself"how could a 6'5, 300-pound kid who had been healthy as a horse and that hadn't ever been in the hospital prior to have a seizure?" "The last time I saw him, he was energetic and healthy, with that huge gap-toothed smile. And had been hurried off the area and into the emergency room on the first day of training. It simply didn't make any sense."
McNair wrote that he and Tonya were"unprepared" to see their son lying at a cooling suit to receive his 106-degree body down, but it wasn't working, and Jordan was placed into a medically induced coma.
On Aug. 14, 2018, Maryland president Wallace D. Loh and athletic director Damon Evans held a joint news conference to announce preliminary findings within their investigation to McNair's death.
"The university takes legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes which our coaching team left," he said.
Loh had formed a committee to investigate the allegations of a toxic culture brought to light in the ESPN report, but less than a week afterwards, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents took over the analysis and began what could morph into a totally separate story of politics and power.
It wasn't until Sept. 21 the USM board published the findings of the first evaluation, which requested Rod Walters, a sports medicine consultant, to ascertain whether athletic coaches followed appropriate protocol during their treatment of McNair in the May 29 clinic. "There has been a failure to spot escalating symptoms associated with exertional heat illness," Walters said,"including analyzing vital signs, differentiating the illness and aggressively treating the patient's elevated heart. No device was used for prompt cooling of the individual."
Walters also provided a timeline of this day that revealed more than 90 minutes passed from the conclusion of the sprints workout until McNair was transported to a local hospital.
In late October, the board of regents held two meetings to discuss the commission's findings in the report on the Maryland football culture, which had been the focus of the second evaluation. Many media outlets, including ESPN, had acquired a copy of the 1 92-page report, which concluded that there was" no toxic culture" in Maryland, and that the culture did not bring about McNair's departure.
Investigators found disturbing things about the app beneath Durkin's leadership, however, including cases of bullying and humiliation by strength coach Court. Additionally, it reasoned that players did not feel comfortable going to Durkin with issues, and said the school had a dysfunctional athletic department that did not function Durkin nicely in his evolution as a first-time head coach.
Later that month, well into the center of the school football season and while Durkin was still in the midst of paid administrative leave, Durkin, Loh and Evans each faced the board of regents at Baltimore, one by one, using their jobs at stake. Durkin had impressed the board, and also former chairman James Brady afterwards called him"incredibly forthright" with his strategy to move Maryland forward.
On Oct. 30, the USM board of regents declared its recommendation to reinstate Durkin and maintain Evans in his function as Maryland's athletic director -- a decision that has been met with widespread backlash. At precisely the exact same press conference, Loh declared he'd retire in June 2019. Sources with knowledge of the discussions told ESPN at the time the board, that has the ability to fire just Loh, informed Loh he'd be terminated if he did not reinstate Durkin, the board's top priority. "This wasn't Dr. Loh's conclusion," a source said at the time.
"We believe that Coach Durkin has been unfairly blamed for its dysfunction at the athletic department," Brady said. "While he bears some responsibility, it isn't reasonable to put it all at his feet."
Durkin returned that day to a group meeting in College Park, where, according to sources, a couple players walked out in protest. Durkin attended the team's practice that day. Terrapins offensive lineman Ellis McKennie, one of McNair's closest buddies, afterwards tweeted of this board:"A group of people do not have the courage to hold anybody responsible for [McNair's] death."
Many Maryland politicians criticized the decision to reinstate Durkin and the USM board's effort to marginalize Loh. Marty McNair said in a separate Baltimore news conference,"I feel like I've been punched in the stomach, and a person spit in my face."
Political and media criticism mounted fast. Maryland student body president Jonathan Allen told ESPN,"People are appalled by this," and he planned to introduce legislation that called for Loh to fire Durkin. Allen also criticized Brady, saying,"It could not have worked out better for chairman Brady."
Political pressure continued, for example a second announcement from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who stated that he was"deeply worried at how the [USM regents] might have possibly arrived at the decisions announced [Tuesday]." Hogan called for a public meeting where the board and Loh could rethink their conclusions, ending his statement with,"The University System of Maryland has let down the University of Maryland community and the citizens of Maryland, and now's the time to fix it."
Loh, acting independent of their USM regents, determined Durkin needed to be terminated. He alerted Evans, who advised Durkin in the late day. Durkin was completely surprised by the conclusion, according to sources, and left the Gossett Football Team House without addressing players. Maryland didn't fire the trainer for cause.
Evans told the team which Durkin had been terminated, and that Matt Canada would continue as interim coach.
The payoff was the final piece.