Tearful Maryland AD vows to prevent the next Jordan McNair tragedy

Chris Lingebach
August 14, 2018 - 5:58 pm
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Camille Fine-USA TODAY

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Before a crowd of reporters gathered at College Park on Tuesday, Maryland President Wallace D. Loh and Athletic Director Damon Evans accepted full responsibility, legally and morally, for the preventable death of 19-year-old Jordan McNair.

McNair died on June 13, after suffering from heatstroke during an organized team workout on May 29. What brought Loh and Evans to the podium of Tuesday's press conference?

On Saturday, Aug. 11, an ESPN report outlined that, on the day of his heatstroke, McNair had shown signs of extreme exhaustion, had difficulty standing upright, and was found to have a body temperature of 106 degrees later at a hospital, signaling severe neglect by the Maryland football department in the moments that led to McNair's death.

Also on Saturday, Maryland announced that head football coach D.J. Durkin, in addition to other staff members the day before, had been placed on administrative leave. The other staff members were placed on leave in connection with an ESPN report alleging a "toxic culture" in the football program, which oversaw the "belittling, humiliation and embarrassment" of some players.

"We learned about these allegations from the media," Loh conceded.

The fact is, it took two months, from the time of McNair's death, for Maryland to publicly accept responsibility for its fatal neglect. For the school's failure to uphold its singular responsibility to parents: protecting their children.

Still, Loh made clear to reporters on Tuesday that "our athletic training staff, not our coaching staff," misdiagnosed the situation. Evans would later acknowledge that Maryland's athletic training staff neither took McNair's temperature, nor provided cold-water immersion, "an important part of this equation." Loh and Evans traveled to McNair's home earlier Tuesday to personally apologize to his parents.

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The Maryland officials revealed an "external review team" has been hired to investigate the circumstances of McNair's death, and a report is expected by Sept. 15.

But the most honest assessment of the press conference came from a tearful Evans as he wrapped up his thoughts: "There are no words to say to Jordan's parents that are good enough. I have looked into the eyes of a grieving mother and father, and there is simply nothing good enough."

"We will honor Jordan's life," he said. "And we will ensure that a tragedy such as this never happens on our campus again."

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