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University of Maryland football player who died after workout didn’t receive proper care, review says

A University of Maryland football player who died of heatstroke this summer did not receive proper medical care, and some members of the training staff made mistakes, according to preliminary results of an independent review.

Jordan McNair, 19, died June 13, two weeks after taking part in a workout at Maryland’s outdoor practice fields, CNN affiliate WJZ reported. Last week, the university placed its head football coach, D.J. Durkin, and members of the athletic staff on administrative leave pending the investigation into circumstances surrounding the death.

The preliminary findings of an external review, which will be made public in September, found that an emergency response was not followed in McNair’s case and the care the university provided was not consistent with best practices, Athletic Director Damon Evans said Tuesday.

McNair’s heat illness was not promptly identified, and athletic training staff did not take his temperature and apply a cold-water immersion treatment, Evans said.

The university has also parted with its head strength coach, Rick Court, Evans said.

“We will honor Jordan’s life and we will ensure that a tragedy such as this never happens on our campus again by working every single day to provide the safest environment for our student athletes on and off the field,” Evans said, fighting back tears.

Evans announced the preliminary findings hours after he and university President Wallace D. Loh met with McNair’s family and shared the findings with them.

The two officials apologized to McNair’s family during that meeting in Baltimore and issued public apologies Tuesday.

Loh said he told the family the “university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made on that fateful workout day.”

Loh said he also told McNair’s family: “The university owes you an apology. You entrusted Jordan to our care, and he is never returning home.”

Since McNair’s death, the university has given more training to athletic training staff and increased the number of breaks and cooling stations during practice, officials said.

The 325-pound offensive lineman from Randallstown, Maryland, appeared in one game last season as a true freshman but ended up redshirting, hoping for a starting spot this year, according to the Bleacher Report.

Court, who resigned on Monday, according to Bleacher Report, said he will cooperate with university investigations and “be transparent.”

“Jordan McNair’s life and death are what we must all remember to put first as we face the future What did we learn? …. The gravity of the situation has deeply impacted my perspective on ‘the why’ I am coaching,” Court said a statement.

A second external review

The review into McNair’s death and procedures and protocols surrounding athletes’ health and safety is one of two inquiries the university is undertaking.

A four-person commission — which includes retired judges, a lawyer experienced with handling NCAA integrity issues and a former football coach — will review “the practices and the culture” of the football team in the wake of allegations in a recent ESPN report, Loh said.

The ESPN report detailed what it described as a culture of intimidation and humiliation within the football program.

Evans said he had not “witnessed any behavior” described in the ESPN report.

Loh said the allegations raised in the report “are totally inconsistent with what we stand for and our values, which is about education, preparing student athletes for life, and to be treated with respect and dignity.”

“You can motivate people, push them to the limit without engaging in bullying behavior,” Loh said.