August 18, 2018 / 3:34 AM / a year ago

Maryland board takes control of McNair, culture investigations

The board of regents for the University System of Maryland unanimously voted Friday to take full control of two investigations involving the Maryland football program, including the one examining the events leading to the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.

Walters, Inc. was hired by the university in late June to investigate whether staff members followed proper protocol in treating McNair on May 29, the day the 19-year-old was hospitalized after falling ill during a team workout. McNair died from heatstroke on June 13. That inquiry is expected to be complete by Sept. 15, and the results will be made public, according to university president Wallace D. Loh.

A separate investigation is being conducted to examine allegations that emerged in a recent ESPN report of a toxic culture within the football program, including strong accusations against head coach DJ Durkin and strength and conditioning coach Rick Court. Durkin was placed on leave last week, and Court parted ways with the school Tuesday.

Loh, who initiated the second investigation earlier this week, chose four people to conduct the inquiry, including retired chief judge Ben Legg and retired judge Alex Williams of the U.S. District Court for Maryland. Also among the four is former prosecutor of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland Charlie Scheeler, who has worked on cases involving steroids in MLB and Penn State’s compliance with athletics integrity. The yet-to-be announced fourth person is a “retired and respected” coach and athletic administrator from outside the university, Loh said Tuesday.

Both investigations are now under the control of Maryland’s board of regents, after a four-hour meeting was held Friday in Baltimore.

“Everyone throughout the University System of Maryland was deeply saddened by the death of Jordan McNair,” USM board of regents chair James Brady said in a statement. “Our thoughts continue to be with his family and friends, and with everyone at UMCP, at this very difficult time.

“Earlier today, the board of regents was fully briefed by UMCP President Wallace Loh about the circumstances of Mr. McNair’s tragic death, about the actions that have been taken since, and finally about the alarming allegations that have emerged in the last week related to the football program. After a long and robust discussion, the board voted unanimously to assume responsibility for the investigations into these two separate issues. Our goal is to ensure that all system universities, including UMCP, are actively working to protect the health and safety of every student and to foster a supportive culture in which everyone can flourish.”

Loh said in a statement that he and the school “welcome the oversight of the Board of Regents at this critical time.”

At the meeting, the board asked the office of the state attorney general to represent Maryland on “any and all legal claims related to Mr. McNair’s death.”

Billy Murphy, the McNair family’s attorney, has said previously that a lawsuit “likely” will be filed against the university. He told ESPN on Thursday that “we anticipate a prompt resolution of this or else we’ll just go back to court.”

McNair’s father told ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday that Durkin should “of course” be fired, adding, “He shouldn’t be able to work with anybody else’s kid.”

—Field Level Media

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