The University of Maryland’s commitment to the safety and well-being of student-athletes is paramount and resolute. We have already made substantial changes to how we practice and how we train, and we will continue to make further changes as we learn more.
As a University we have accepted moral and legal responsibility for the mistakes made in Jordan’s care. We have made changes to make our program safer, including more breaks and cooling stations for players. We will be open and transparent about our failures, so that other programs can learn from them.
Jordan McNair was hospitalized following an organized team workout on May 29, 2018, and passed away two weeks later on June 13. The University of Maryland accepted legal and moral responsibility and apologized to Jordan’s parents for the mistakes made by some of our athletic training staff. The emergency response plan was not appropriately followed that day, the care provided was not consistent with best practices, and heat illness was not promptly identified or treated. We want to understand as much as we can about the loss of our student-athletes and, as such, have brought in a nationally recognized expert in sports medicine and athletic training to conduct a safety investigation surrounding Jordan’s death. Following the release of the investigation’s findings, the University immediately began implementing the additional recommendations made in the report.
Our commitment to the safety and well-being of our students continues to be paramount and resolute. For our student-athletes, that means both on and off the field. The tragedy of losing Jordan McNair has made this even more acute, and we must do everything in our power to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.
Maryland Athletics has worked to swiftly implementing the recommendations from the two external assessments of our football program to enhance the well-being and safety of our student-athletes across all sports Our work is focused on four key areas: strengthening policies for safety and well-being; increasing mechanisms for feedback and review; upholding our Maryland values; and promoting professional excellence. Details of our work can be found at https://umd.edu/commitment/taking-action.
In August 2018, the Board of Regents voted to oversee investigations into procedures and protocols surrounding athletes’ health and safety, as well as allegations around the culture within our football program. We welcomed the Board’s leadership in spearheading the reviews during that critical period. We took and will continue to take appropriate and decisive action, based upon the findings and recommendations from the investigations and other information as it is made available to us. The University of Maryland is committed to accountability, transparency and fairness and will do whatever possible to ensure our program upholds the values of our University.
No. Immediately following Jordan’s hospitalization, the University identified the need for an external review. On the day of the tragic passing of Jordan McNair, the University contacted a nationally recognized expert in sports medicine and athletic training, Rod Walters, to launch the review. Beginning in June 2018 we made changes to how we practice and how we train to implement additional safeguards across all of our programs. This included adding cooling stations, expanding the use of hydration tests, increasing breaks, and providing football athletic training and strength and conditioning staff with two-way radios to enhance instant communication capabilities.
In addition, athletic trainers were placed on leave, and following allegations raised in the media around the culture of the football program, Head Football Coach DJ Durkin was also placed on leave. We accepted the resignation of the football strength and conditioning coach. We took further appropriate and decisive action, based upon the findings and recommendations of the review and other information as it was made available to us.
Teammates, coaches, staff and University leadership, including the President and the Athletic Director, made visits to Jordan and his family in the days following his hospitalization.
In June 2018, the University of Maryland hired a nationally recognized expert, Rod Walters, to conduct an external review of the procedures and protocols surrounding athletes’ health and safety. The Board of Regents assumed leadership of this review. The University continues to be committed to accountability, transparency and fairness, and we welcomed the Board’s leadership in spearheading the review.
The University of Maryland has a physician-directed healthcare model, which is widely adopted. Our licensed athletic training staff are currently supervised by our University of Maryland School of Medicine supervising physician. To avoid conflicts of interest, all physicians who supervise the athletic trainers are employed outside the Athletic Department. Consistent with best practices, our coaches do not have direct responsibility for the hiring or supervision of any member of the sports medicine staff.
Dr. Andrew Pollak, Chair of the Department of Orthopedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine stated the following:
"You cannot draw a line between organizational structure and the death of student-athlete Jordan McNair.
We share in the commitment to make sure a tragedy like this one never happens again, and we extend our condolences to Jordan's family. We can and will work with the University to implement changes that improve the environment and conditions where student-athletes compete and athletic trainers provide care."
There is not Athletic Department video of that day. Following the completion of the Office of the Attorney General investigation, the footage was provided to Jordan McNair’s family. The videos, with the exception of the footage containing private medical information, were released through the Public Information Act process.
Our student-athletes and University community had heavy hearts during the 2018 football season following the loss of Jordan McNair. Our thoughts continue to be with his family and his friends—many of whom were his teammates. Jordan's teammates led the way on meaningful tributes. Among the most impactful ways the University can honor Jordan will be to ensure that the learnings—and subsequent changes—that came out of this report do not stay confined to our program.
Jordan’s teammates collectively chose a number of ways to honor his legacy, including:
The University has not been contacted by the NCAA on the circumstances surrounding Jordan’s death or the allegations surrounding the culture of the football program.
Yes, Maryland Athletics has implemented all 20 recommendations made in the external safety review led by Rod Walters.
In May 2019, the University announced it will transition to a model where its athletic medical staff, including the head team physician, athletic trainers, nutritionists and mental health practitioners, will be employed outside of the athletics department, as part of the Division of Student Affairs in the University Health Center (UHC). This model will further enhance the physician-directed, autonomous care our student-athletes receive and advance our efforts to provide comprehensive, integrated, patient-centered care for our student-athletes.
We convened a panel of national experts in sports medicine to review and advise on our healthcare model. The majority of universities in the country--all but a handful in the Power 5 Conferences--have a similar structure to our previous one, where athletic training staff are supervised by a physician and employees of the Athletic Department. We asked the panel to provide a recommendation on the strongest structures to ensure continued autonomy for our sports medicine staff.
We will not tolerate any behavior from any employee within our athletic program that is detrimental to the mental or physical well-being of our student-athletes. The University continues to be committed to accountability, transparency and fairness, and we welcomed the Board’s leadership in spearheading the reviews.
We are working to make changes that ensure that the underlying structure of our athletic department creates opportunities for our student-athletes to speak out if they have concerns, and to increase oversight and accountability for key positions. In August, we launched Terps Feedback, an online platform for all of our student-athletes to provide feedback in real time. We have implemented a process by which complaints regarding the well-being of our student-athletes are evaluated by a team of professionals within the department and shared with the faculty athletic representative. We have also increased the attendance of our Faculty Athletic Representative, members of the Athletic Council, and the Athletic Department’s senior leadership at practices across all of our sports.
The focus of these two reviews was different. The external review led by Rod Walters began in June 2018 following the tragic passing of Jordan McNair. The goal of this review was to evaluate the procedures and protocols followed on May 29 as well as wider policies surrounding athletes’ health and safety. It was also to ensure that we do everything in our power to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.
In August 2018, media reports were published about allegations of a toxic culture within our football program that go against the values of our athletic department and our University, which required an additional review. This review was led by a commission of legal and sports experts. While the commission did not find a “toxic culture,” it did find troubling behaviors within the program. We will not tolerate any behavior from any employee within our athletic program that is detrimental to the mental or physical well-being of our student-athletes.
The commission was comprised of legal and sports experts, including:
The Board of Regents has stated publicly its confidence that the commission exercised fairness and impartiality in this review. The commission was comprised of legal and sports experts whose experience were assets to these reviews, and the commission was overseen by the Board of Regents, not the University.
Both the President and Athletic Director have stated that the incidents and allegations of abusive behavior reported in the initial news coverage were news to them. They learned of these alleged behaviors through media reports and took swift action.
President Loh and Athletic Director Damon Evans felt it was in the best interest of the University to part ways with Coach Durkin.
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Our Commitment to Student-Athletes
At the University of Maryland, our commitment to the safety and well-being of our students is paramount and resolute. For our student-athletes, that means both on and off the field.
The University of Maryland is committed to accountability, transparency, and fairness and is working to ensure our program upholds the values of our University.
Learn more about our commitment.
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