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Investigation finds Maryland culpable in player death

TOWSON, Md. — An independent investigation into the death of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair has determined that trainers on the scene did not follow proper procedures after he collapsed on the field.

The report provided details of what happened and confirmed what university officials previously acknowledged.

McNair was hospitalized on May 29 after a team workout and died June 13. The family attorney said the cause of death was heatstroke.

Dr. Rod Walters, a former college athletic trainer and sports medicine consultant who led the investigation launched by the school following McNair’s death, said Friday that it was 1 hour, 39 minutes between the time McNair collapsed and the departure of the ambulance from the campus.

“There was the failure to identify escalating symptoms associated with heat illness, including assessing vital signs, identifying the condition and aggressively treating the patient’s elevated core temperature,” Walters said. “No apparatus was used for prompt cooling of the patient. Inadequate cooling devices were used, such as cold towels, ice packs, etc.”

Maryland athletic director Damon Evans acknowledged last month that “mistakes were made” by the training staff in the treatment of McNair, a 19-year-old sophomore offensive lineman. University President Wallace Loh visited McNair’s parents to offer a personal apology for how the situation was handled.

Terrapins head coach DJ Durkin, who was not at the press conference, is on administrative leave while an external investigation into the culture of the football program is being conducted — in the wake of McNair’s death, an ESPN story reported that the coaching staff engaged in physical and mental abuse of players.

According to Walters’ report, Durkin was on the scene when McNair collapsed. His role in the events that followed was not made clear.

Much of Walters’ report focused on recommendations that would prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.

Loh met with the media after Walters presented his findings.

“We have protocols and policies which are good, but it is not enough that they are good,” the university president said. “They have to be implemented and there has to be training. That is where we’re short and we have to do a better job.”

In a release issued before the news conference began, the university wrote: “We made immediate changes following Jordan’s death and have continued to make enhancements informed by the preliminary observations of the external review (by Walters) we received this summer.”

The list of changes already implemented, according to the school, include an increase in doctors and training at practices and games; additional on-site cooling stations to football training camp and practices consisting of portable spray misters, recovery drinks and cooling towels; and increasing the number and length of recovery breaks.