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University of Maryland Resources on Football Program External Review

July 11, 2018
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4621

Updated as of September 21, 2018

On June 13, University of Marylnd student-athlete Jordan McNair passed away. Jordan’s life will be honored by the team during the season, and details are forthcoming. 

To answer questions from the media, the university has collected below the information released to our community as we continue our external review. 

 

  • Our Commitment to Student-Athletes: Letter from University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh  (September 21, 2018)

Dear University of Maryland community,

I would like to share with you this update following today’s Board of Regents meeting on the tragic death of our student-athlete Jordan McNair. In August, Athletic Director Damon Evans and I met with Jordan’s parents to apologize personally for the mistakes made in Jordan’s care by our athletic trainers.

In June, we retained a national expert in sports medicine and athletic training, Rod Walters, to conduct a comprehensive review of the policies and protocols related to the health and safety of our student-athletes. We requested recommendations on what changes should be made to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again. We are committed to this.

The entire Board of Regents received the final report from Rod Walters today. Since he was retained, he has been also advising the Athletic Department on needed improvements, and they have already begun implementing some of his recommendations even before receiving the final report.

Actions to improve the safety of the training and conditioning sessions include: adopting new technology to improve how we monitor the ambient temperature and modify practices accordingly; implementing mandatory hydration testing and emphasizing longer and more frequent recovery breaks. The Athletic Department also increased the number of doctors and trainers present at football practices and games. In July, Rod Walters began expanded training for the staff on the implementation of the emergency action plan. An online portal was established so that our student-athletes could share any concerns. The Walters report highlighted the fact that we have a physician-directed model for athletics trainers, who are licensed by the state and are under the supervision of a licensed physician.

There are additional recommendations in the final report, such as establishing an athletic medicine review board that will review procedures and protocols regarding student-athlete safety. The Athletic Department has committed to implementing all of the recommendations.

Our actions, and our commitments, are available at www.umd.edu/commitment.

The Board of Regents also assumed control in August of a separate commission investigating allegations surrounding the culture of our football program. The Chair of the Board of Regents announced today that results of this commission will be forthcoming.

The safety and well-being of our students remains paramount. I will continue to update our community on all of these efforts.

Sincerely,

Wallace D. Loh 

President, University of Maryland

 

  • Letter from Maryland Athletic Director Damon Evans (September 21, 2018)

Dear Terrapin Community, 

The passing of our student-athlete Jordan McNair in June shook us all to our core. Our student-athletes have demonstrated tremendous resiliency and strength by how they have come together over these past few months to honor Jordan and support each other through the healing process. 

President Loh and I have personally apologized to Jordan’s family for the mistakes made in his care. We continue to keep Jordan’s family, friends and teammates in our thoughts.  

Today, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents received the final report from the external review by Rod Walters. We commissioned the report immediately following Jordan’s death to examine the policies and procedures affecting the health and safety of our student-athletes. The final report includes many recommendations, and we are committed to implementing all of them. Based on the preliminary observations, we already have made changes to how we train and practice across all sports, including:

      • Changed how we practice, train and compete to prevent heat illness
      • Enhanced student-athlete assessments to more closely monitor their health
      • Increased the frequency of athletic department staff trainings across all sports-related health matters
      • Provided additional support measures and new ways to collect input from student-athletes 

You can review additional details outlining our actions and commitments to our student-athletes at www.umd.edu/commitment

President Loh and I are wholeheartedly committed to the safety and well-being of our students. We will do everything in our power to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.

I will continue to provide updates on our progress. 

Sincerely, 

Damon Evans

Director of Athletics

 

  • Our Commitment Website (September 21, 2018)

Learn about the University's actions and commitments following the tragic death of Jordan McNair: umd.edu/commitment

 

  • New Student-Athlete Reporting Tool (August 24, 2018)

The athletics department has launched a new online platform that provides student-athletes the opportunity to submit secure comments or concerns. Terps ICA Feedback allows students to detail their issue and choose if they want to be contacted by a sports supervisor, senior administrator or Faculty Athletics representative to discuss their feedback.

University of Maryland Athletic Director Damon Evans wrote in a letter to student-athletes: “As your new athletic director, I want to make sure you have the ability to communicate any issues or concerns you might have. Ensuring an atmosphere that is conducive to open and honest dialogue is of utmost importance. I encourage you to speak out if you have a challenge, concern or issue.”

 

  • Maryland Football Student-Athletes Announcement Video  (August 20, 2018)

 

  • Update on the External Review and Commission (August 17, 2018)

USM Board of Regents to Assume Authority and Control Over UMCP Investigations

The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents today unanimously voted to assume authority and control over all aspects of the investigation into the tragic death of University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) student-athlete Jordan McNair.  Separately, the board will assume control over the commission formed to investigate the culture of the UMCP football program. Today’s actions will allow the USM to provide guidance from the findings of the investigations to all system institutions.

These steps are being taken pursuant to its authority and duty under Section 12-104 of the Education Article of the Maryland Code.

The USM will announce additional details about the board’s plans next week.  Each of the two separate reviews will now be managed by the Board of Regents and report findings to the Board of Regents, as well as to UMCP.

The votes were taken during a 4-hour special meeting of the board. The board also asked the Office of the Attorney General to represent UMCP and USM on any and all legal claims related to Mr. McNair’s death.

“Everyone throughout the University System of Maryland was deeply saddened by the death of Jordan McNair,” said USM Board of Regents Chair James Brady.  “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,” Brady continued.  “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.”

UMCP President Loh issued the following comment: “We welcome the oversight of the Board of Regents at this critical time. We must thoroughly investigate the death of student-athlete Jordan McNair and understand the allegations of the culture of our football program so that we can ensure the health and well-being of every one of our student-athletes. We will continue to honor Jordan’s life, and we will work with our Board of Regents to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.”  

 

  • Information on Athletic Training Staffing Structures (August 17, 2018)

University of Maryland Statement on Athletic Training Staffing Structures (August 16, 2018):

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.

The proposal to outsource athletic trainers to another institution was made when our athletic trainers were already supervised by University of Maryland School of Medicine physicians. At the same time,because the trainers were university employees, we retained the ability to make necessary personnel decisions, as we did recently in placing members of our athletic training staff on administrative leave. 

The University of Maryland’s commitment to safety is paramount and resolute. We have commissioned an independent expert to assess all of our policies and procedures affecting the health and safety of our student-athletes, and we have already changed our practices based on his preliminary observations and recommendations. 

 

Statement from University of Maryland School of Medicine's Orthopedics Department Chair Dr. Andrew Pollak (August 17, 2018)

Dr. Andrew Pollak, Chair of the Department of Orthopedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine said today: 

"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." 

 

  • Tweet from Maryland Athletic Director Damon Evans  (August 14, 2018)

 

Tweed from Maryland AD Damon Evans

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Press Conference Videos  (August 14, 2018)

Wallace D. Loh

 

Damon Evans

 

Media Q & A

 

Email mediainfo@umd.edu to request video files

 

  • Letter from Maryland Athletic Director Damon Evans (August 14, 2018)

Dear Terrapin Community,

When I was named Athletic Director in July, my highest priority was to investigate the events surrounding the death of our football student-athlete, Jordan McNair. Although that review is ongoing, preliminary findings from the independent review being conducted by national experts in sports medicine indicate that mistakes were made. The care provided to Jordan was not consistent with best practices, our trainers did not implement appropriately the emergency action plan, and they misdiagnosed the severity of Jordan's initial symptoms.

Based on these preliminary findings, we have taken immediate actions including:

    • Implemented additional safeguards for all of our athletic practices and training, not just football.
    • Added cooling stations and increased student-athlete breaks during practice taking place in the heat.
    • Placed members of our athletic training staff on administrative leave.

Additional actions will be guided by the recommendations of our independent experts. The University has also commissioned a second team of legal and sports experts who will look into recent allegations of unacceptable behavior within our football program. The alleged behaviors are not consistent with the values of our athletic program. I have placed our head football coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave, and as of today, we accepted the resignation of our head football strength and conditioning coach.

Make no mistake, 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. There is nothing more important to me than our student-athletes’ safety.

You will continue to hear from me with updates on our progress. I ask that you keep Jordan’s family, friends and teammates in your prayers.

Sincerely,

Damon Evans

Athletic Director 

 

  • Letter from University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh  (August 14, 2018)

Dear University of Maryland community,

Today, Athletic Director Damon Evans and I met with the parents of Jordan McNair, a 19-year old lineman on our football team, who died in the aftermath of a workout on May 29. On behalf of the University, I apologized to them. They entrusted their son to us, and he did not return home.

An external sports medicine and athletic training expert is conducting a comprehensive review of the circumstances in this case, as well as of the policies and protocols followed by our certified athletic trainers in preventing, recognizing, and treating heat-related illness. The full report is expected to be completed by mid-September. It will be made public.

However, based on the expert's preliminary observations thus far, we know that the care provided to Jordan was not consistent with best practices. Also, our trainers did not implement appropriately the emergency action plan, misdiagnosed the severity of Jordan’s initial symptoms, did not assess vital signs, and did not promptly and properly treat for exertional heat illness.

These were mistakes on the part of some of the athletic training staff. The University accepts legal and moral responsibility for these mistakes.

Under the guidance of the experts leading our investigation, we have taken immediate steps to put additional safeguards in place for all of our athletic practices and training, not just football.

I made a commitment to Jordan's parents. I want to make the same commitment to the parents of all of our student-athletes, and to our entire campus community:

We will do everything within our power to ensure that no University of Maryland student-athlete is ever again put in a situation where his or her safety and life are at foreseeable risk.

The final report will recommend additional actions to make sure that our athletic programs are as safe as possible for all student-athletes. The implementation of these actions is one of the ways we will honor the legacy of Jordan.

I take very seriously the allegations reported in the media about the culture of our football program, citing instances of alleged intimidation and humiliation as ways to “toughen up” players. I am also mindful of other published reports in which some Maryland football players disagree with this portrayal of the program.

My office is usually informed via formal and informal ways of important issues or concerns. In this instance, upon learning of these allegations in the media, my senior staff and I acted upon them.

The University is committed to accountability, transparency and fairness. Athletic Director Evans promptly placed some Athletics personnel on administrative leave. Today, I am announcing a commission to conduct a full and expeditious review of the reported allegations of the conduct of the football staff and of the football program climate.

This commission is comprised of:

    • Ben Legg, retired Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for Maryland.
    • Alex Williams, retired Judge, U.S. District Court for Maryland and former Prince George's County State's Attorney.
    • Charlie Scheeler, senior counsel, DLA Piper; former prosecutor, U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland; lead counsel, investigation of steroid use in Major League Baseball; monitor of Penn State's compliance under its Athletics Integrity Agreement with the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference.
    • A retired and respected football coach and athletic administrator from outside the University, to be named soon.

The commission will interview student-athletes, their parents, staff, and other stakeholders in a manner that ensures confidential and candid responses.

We want a thriving and competitive football program that reflects the University's core values: the safety and welfare of student-athletes, and their success in the classroom, on the gridiron, and in life.

We will not countenance behaviors that are inconsistent with these values. We will take appropriate and decisive action, based upon the findings and recommendations of this commission and other information as it is made available to us.

Thank you for your continuing support of Maryland Athletics.

Sincerely,

Wallace D. Loh

President, University of Maryland

 

  •  Letter from Maryland Athletic Director Damon Evans (August 11, 2018)

Dear Terps,

I am extremely concerned by the allegations of unacceptable behaviors by members of our football staff detailed in recent media reports. We are committed to fully investigating the program.  

At this time, the best decision for our football program is to place Maryland Head Football Coach DJ Durkin on leave so we can properly review the culture of the program. This is effective immediately. Matt Canada will serve as interim head coach. 

The external review into the tragic death of Jordan McNair continues, and we have committed to releasing publicly the report being prepared by an independent and national expert. 

The safety and well-being of our student-athletes is our highest priority. These alleged behaviors are not consistent with the values I expect all of our staff to adhere to and we must do better. 

You will be hearing from me as our work continues to rebuild the culture of respect in our football program. 

Damon Evans 

 

  • Letter from University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh  (August 11, 2018)

Dear University of Maryland community,

I am profoundly disturbed by the media reports yesterday about verbally abusive and intimidating conduct by Maryland football coaches and staff towards our student athletes on the team. 

Such behaviors contravene the educational mission and core values of our University. They are unacceptable. They will not be tolerated.  

All of our coaches and staff who work with our student athletes are also teachers. Our responsibility as teachers is to inspire and enable students to perform at their best and expand the boundaries of their potential, in the classroom and/or on the athletic field. Humiliating and demeaning a student is not only bad teaching and coaching, it is an abuse of the authority of a teacher and coach. 

I have directed Athletic Director Damon Evans to take actions necessary to ensure the safety and success of our student athletes. In addition, the University will retain an external expert to undertake a comprehensive examination of our coaching practices in the football program, with the goal that these practices reflect -- not subvert -- the core values of our University.

Today, Athletic Director Evans has placed Head Football Coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave while this comprehensive examination is conducted. This follows Athletic Director Evans' decision to place other athletics staff members on administrative leave. Matt Canada will serve as Interim Head Football Coach.

The University of Maryland is committed to a football program that is safe and humane, and where our student-athletes are successful in their academic and athletic endeavors. This commitment will be carried out with accountability, fairness, and transparency. 

I will follow-up with a progress update.

Sincerely,

Wallace D. Loh

President, University of Maryland 

 

  • University of Maryland Statement (August 10, 2018)

Following the death of Maryland football player Jordan McNair in June, the University of Maryland commissioned an external review of the procedures and protocols surrounding athletes’ health and safety. Pending the final outcome of this review, the university has placed members of the Athletics staff on administrative leave. We will be able to speak in greater detail when the review is complete and shared with the public. Our thoughts remain with Jordan McNair’s family, friends and teammates. 

 

  • Update on External Review (August 3, 2018)

Today the university provided the contract with Walters Inc., to media outlets who had requested it under Maryland's Public Informtaion Act. To request a copy of the contract, please email mediainfo@umd.edu

In response to a question from the media, a university spokesperson said: 

"Every football student-athlete was invited and encouraged to participate in the external review, and they were offered the opportunity to speak confidentially and directly with Walters Inc." 

 

  • University of Maryland Statement (July 19, 2018)

All players have resumed workouts and official practices will begin August 3. We continue to think of Jordan's grieving family, as our community mourns his loss. 

The university immediately sought and secured experts to conduct a thorough and impartial review. We are making every effort to understand as much as we can about this tragedy, as the safety of our students is the highest priority. 

 
  • External Review Scope (July 12, 2018)

The University of Maryland proactively hired Walters Inc., to perform a review of the care our student-athletes receive before, during and after competition. The review is led by Dr. Rod Walters, a national leader in athletic standards of care.

Walters Inc., will  perform an independent evaluation of ICA's procedures and protocols related to the recent death of a University football player and review the football program's procedures and protocols involving student-athlete health and safety applicable to:planning and conducting team conditioning and practice sessions; and for responding to health emergencies during or after those sessions. 

 
  • Summary (As of July 12, 2018)

The team gathered for a scheduled, supervised workout at approximately 4:15 pm on May 29th and the temperature was approximately 80 degrees. The workout was held at the Varsity Team House Practice Fields. 

All of our eligible football players participated in the conditioning workout designed by our staff. Our team has done this particular workout the past two seasons. The workout consisted of a warm-up, baseline running drills and position-specific drills.

The workout was supervised by our strength and conditioning staff, and certified athletic trainers were present throughout. Coach Durkin was at the workout. 

Each student-athlete was given a gallon of water at the start of the day and weighed-in prior to the workout. Water, gatorade and snacks are available throughout the day and workout, and lunch was provided to the team. 

All players are required to receive a medical clearance at the start of the practice season. All players participating in the workout received their medical clearance from our team physician.

Following the completion of the workout, our trainers noticed Jordan was having problems recovering. They began supporting an active recovery and providing care. He was talking to our trainers throughout. 

He was then moved via gator to the athletic training room in the football team house for further observation and continued treatment. 

Staff contacted medical personnel and dialed 911. 

Emergency personnel began arriving on the scene at approximately 6pm and Jordan was transported to the hospital. 

All players have resumed workouts and official practices will begin August 3

The university is contracting with Walters Incorporated to conduct an external review. The review is evaluating relevant policies and protocols, as the safety and well-being of our student-athletes is the highest priority. 

 
 
  • Quotes from the Maryland Athletics Press Conference for the Athletic Director Announcement (June 26, 2018) 

“We are all still grieving for Jordan McNair who, as you know, tragically passed away at the age of only 19. Known as a gentle giant, we will forever remember him wearing number 79. We are all still grieving." - Wallace D. Loh, University of Maryland President

“We lost a member of our family. A young man who, just with his smile, warmed up a room. A young man who loved Chipotle Thursday, which his roommate is going to continue. At his services we got to see what he was really about by the people who filled the room. The people who showed up were a representation of his life. Let us not forget Jordan McNair because he will forever be apart of who we are.” - Damon Evans, University of Maryland Athletic Director 

 

  • University of Maryland Statement on External Review & Football Practice Schedule (June 19, 2018) 

The university is contracting with Walters Incorporated to conduct an external review, and the review will begin by week's end. The review will evaluate relevant policies and protocols, as the safety and well-being of our student-athletes is the highest priority. 

Football players have been informed that regularly scheduled practices are voluntary until further notice. First and foremost the focus is on the well-being of our student-athletes, and this time is for them to grieve. We will continue to provide the resources our student-athletes need, which includes counseling services and access to spiritual leaders, during this difficult time.

 

  • Tweets from University of Maryland President, Wallace D. Loh 

President Loh Tweet- Jordan McNair

Link to tweet (June 14, 2018) 

President Loh Tweet- Jordan McNair

Link to tweet (June 20, 2018)

 

  • Maryland Athletics Press Conference for Jordan McNair (June 14, 2018) 

 

  • Tweets From Maryland Athletics

UMTerps Tweet- Jordan McNair

Link to tweet (June 13, 2018) 

 

  • Message From UMD Executive Athletic Director Damon Evans on Jordan McNair: Maryland Family Mourns Passing of Jordan McNair (June 13, 2018)

Dear Terrapin Family,

We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our student-athletes, sophomore football player Jordan McNair. Jordan was a tremendous athlete, student, teammate and friend, and he will be sorely missed. We offer our deepest condolences to his parents, family and friends.

Jordan was hospitalized following an organized team workout on May 29 and passed away today, June 13. For those who had the opportunity to know Jordan, you understand the sadness we are feeling.

Coach DJ Durkin asked me to pass along the following thoughts on his behalf:

Our team is heartbroken with the loss of Jordan McNair. Jordan was an incredible young man, and his passion and enthusiasm made him an invaluable and beloved member of our team. Jordan was a hard worker and he always had a smile on his face. He was an extremely talented football player and a humble and genuine human being. He embodied the essence of what it means to be a teammate. Jordan was a fighter. Over the past few weeks, Jordan never gave up with his family, friends and team by his side. Our team will continue to be inspired by the spirit of this brave fighter. Please continue to pray for Jordan’s family during this difficult time.

Counseling services are available for our student-athletes and for our staff.

Our thoughts and support continue to be with his family as they grieve the loss of this outstanding young man.

Sincerely,

Damon Evans

Executive Athletic Director