(NEW YORK) — The University of Maryland said it accepts “legal and moral responsibility” for mistakes made in treating a 19-year-old player who collapsed during a practice in May and died two weeks later.
Jordan McNair died June 13 from complications related to extreme exhaustion and heatstroke after a May 29 workout, ESPN reported. McNair’s body temperature, according to medical reports, was 106 when he was admitted to the hospital.
University President Wallace D. Loh said at a press conference on Tuesday that he and Athletic Director Damon Evans had met with McNair’s parents and apologized for mistakes made by the football team’s training staff. McNair didn’t receive appropriate medical attention and best practices weren’t followed, Loh added.
“No Maryland student-athlete will ever be in a situation where his or her life will be at risk, especially when that risk is foreseeable,” Loh said.
Rick Court, the strength and conditioning coach, had been placed on leave Aug. 12 and turned in a letter of resignation on Aug. 13. Wes Robinson, the head football trainer, and Steve Nordwall, director of athletic training, were placed on administrative leave Aug. 10, according to ESPN.
Court, who posted his resignation letter on Twitter, “contributed to an environment based on fear and intimidation, including throwing objects and small weights in the direction of players,” sources told ESPN.
DJ Durkin, the head football coach, was placed on administrative leave Aug. 11, after ESPN reported “allegations of abuse and disparagement in the program” that included “belittling, humiliation and embarrassment of players” and “extreme verbal abuse” and a player who said “he was forced to overeat or eat to the point of vomiting.”
“You can motivate people and push them to the limit,” Loh said, “without bullying and intimidating behavior.”
An attorney representing McNair’s parents said in a statement to ABC News: “While Marty and Tonya will never get another day with Jordan, Dr. Loh’s words were meaningful to them and give them some comfort that he will put the university on the path to change the culture of the program so that no Terrapin family will have to endure the heartache and grief they feel.”
The school has retained an expert team of sports medical and training personnel to review McNair’s case as well as university policies, and a public report is expected to be released mid-September that includes findings from external investigators, ESPN reported. The football team also said it’s added safeguards such as having more water breaks during practices.
Evans said Tuesday that he had “not witnessed any behavior as was described in the media, but it is important that we investigate all these allegations.”
Evans, after serving as the school’s interim athletic director, officially took over July 2. He joined Maryland in December 2014 as a top aide to then-athletic director, Kevin Anderson. Evans played football at Georgia, where he later served as athletic director until a July 2010 DUI arrest.
“We need to evaluate that culture, make sure the environment is safe,” Evans told reporters on Tuesday. “I’m the one that can lead us through these difficult times.”
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