COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland’s athletic department is conducting an external review into the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair, executive athletic director Damon Evans said on Thursday in a brief but emotional press conference that also included coach D.J. Durkin, who struggled to hold back tears as he spoke about McNair.
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McNair, of Randallstown, Maryland, was hospitalized on May 29 after an organized team workout and died on Wednesday. According to a GoFundMe page created on behalf of his mother, Tonya Wilson, McNair was airlifted to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he received a liver transplant and was “fighting for his life.”
“The prudent thing to do and the right thing to do when a situation like this arises is to do a review to make sure that the proper protocols were followed,” Evans said. “We believe it’s important to bring in an external group to conduct the review. We started that process of discussing from the moment Jordan was hospitalized and we will have a team that will provide us the necessary feedback so we can move forward.”
According to Evans, all eligible Terps gathered for a scheduled, supervised workout around 4:15 p.m. on May 29 at the team practice fields. The workouts were supervised by the strength and conditioning staff, Evans said, and certified trainers were there the whole time.
Evans said it was about 80 degrees out when the workouts began, and the players were told to run 10 110-yard sprints. Evans said the 6-foot-4, 235-pound McNair completed the entire workout. When he was done, Evans said, the trainers noticed that McNair was having some trouble recovering and began “providing necessary care.”
“Right now I don’t have the specific details as to what time that took place,” Evans said, “but what I do know is that they were immediately over to him.”
McNair was carted to the training room in the football team house, where he received more care and somebody called 911, Evans said. McNair was transported to the hospital around 6 p.m., according to Evans. Evans declined to provide any more details about what might have led to McNair’s condition, or his exact cause of death, because of privacy requests by the family.
Evans said all of the players were given a gallon of water that morning, as well as snacks and Gatorade throughout the day, and they ate lunch around 2:30 p.m. Durkin, who sat at a table next to Frank Henn, a team physician and orthopedic surgeon, had a difficult time collecting himself. His voice cracked and his eyes were red.
“My heart is broken,” Durkin said, pausing to gather his composure before continuing, “for the reason we’re all even sitting here having this press conference.
“You look for reasons. It’s not reasonable that a 19-year-old should pass away. It’s not reasonable that a family, his parents Marty and Tonya, should ever have to go through this. Jordan was such a tremendous person. As big as he was stature-wise, his heart was much bigger. He had a great way about him. A quiet smile. It was hard to get a word out of him. It was also hard to have a conversation with him without him bringing a smile to your own face. There’s a whole team of players, coaches, staff that love him very much and for that reason everyone is grieving right now.”