The University of Maryland has reached a $3.5 million settlement with the parents of Jordan McNair – the offensive lineman who passed away after suffering a heatstroke during a team workout with his teammates in 2018.
“This has been a long and painful fight, but we will attempt to find closure even though this is a wound that will never, ever fully heal,” the 19-year-old’s parents, Marty McNair and Tonya Wilson said in a statement. “We are focused on honoring Jordan’s legacy so that his death was not in vain. This includes protecting student athletes of all levels of competition, increasing awareness, education, and prevention of all heat related illnesses, empowering student athletes, and introducing legislation nationwide so that no parent should have to wait this long for closure where their child has been treated unfairly or unjustly.”
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Jordan passed away two weeks after partaking in an off-season conditioning session at the institution’s outdoor training facility in May 2018. An independent medical report into his death revealed several lapses committed by the training staff who rendered aid to him, including not checking his vital signs, unavailability of proper cooling devices at the facility, and failure to quickly detect he was suffering a heatstroke, CNN reported. A football trainer also only called 911 more than an hour after McNair initially showed signs of suffering a heatstroke.
“How was I so trusting of these coaches who sat at our table before signing day promising to treat him as one of their own?” Jordan’s father, Marty McNair, wrote in his book, Can My Child Play? “These same coaches who didn’t have the integrity to call us and tell us Jordan got hurt on the first day of conditioning drills. The same coach that didn’t ride in the ambulance to the hospital with our son, after promising us that he’d protect him.
“I made the wrong decision about who to trust with the thing that mattered most to me in the world.”
Per the medical report, Jordan complained of having cramps during the May 29 training session, and he was subsequently taken off the field after 34 minutes. The temperature at the time was 81 degrees. Almost 30 minutes after that, Jordan’s mood aggravated – which a heatstroke symptom – and it prompted a trainer to get in touch with the team doctor who suggested they call 911, CNN reported.
Jordan’s condition worsened at the hospital and he had to be put into a medically induced coma. He, however, passed away two weeks later.
Following Jordan’s death, Athletic Director Damon Evans and the university’s former president, Wallace D. Loh, issued an apology to his family during a meeting in August 2018, with the latter revealing he told them the “university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made on that fateful workout day.”
“The university owes you an apology. You entrusted Jordan to our care, and he is never returning home,” Loh added.
The team’s head coach at the time of the incident, D.J. Durkin, was also fired in October 2018. Following his death, the university moved to install cooling stations and initiated hydration testing of players during practice. Practice breaks have also been extended and the number of trainers and doctors at events has been increased. Team staff were also further trained.