Martin McNair, the father of Jordan McNair, offered his public support for University of Maryland president Wallace Loh on Monday night.
Jordan McNair, an offensive lineman for the Maryland football team, died in June at age 19 from heatstroke after collapsing during a team conditioning drill in May. In the weeks since, Maryland has opened two investigations: one into the events of May 29, the day Jordan collapsed, and another into the culture of the football program as a whole.
In a news conference last week, Loh, on the university’s behalf, accepted responsibility — “legal and moral responsibility” — for Jordan’s death, specifically the “mistakes made” by the football training staff. Earlier that day, Loh, along with athletic director Damon Evans, presented initial findings from the investigation to McNair’s parents, Martin McNair and Tonya Wilson.
Since that news conference, Loh’s job status has come into question. Through his attorney, Martin McNair released a statement backing Loh. Via ESPN:
“We have heard rumblings that Dr. Loh is under fire at the university because of his statements accepting responsibility, on behalf of the university, for Jordan’s death. It would be a complete shame if, after such a display of decency and humanity, Dr. Loh were to be let go. Decency and transparency are the only path forward for our family, the university, and its sports programs to heal and emerge as safe places for families to entrust their children.
“Dr. Loh’s leadership is critical to this happening. Any notion that the Board of Regents can or should walk back from the acceptance of responsibility, or influence the investigations to water down their findings, would be self-defeating and would undermine the very high bar that Dr. Loh has set for the university and its programs going forward. The tragedy of our son’s death cannot and should not be a political football for competing factions or agendas or to settle prior scores.”
Maryland’s Regents took control of the investigation from Loh
The university’s board of regents announced Friday that it had unanimously voted to take full control of the investigation into McNair’s death. Loh previously held that responsibility. The board will also oversee the group commissioned by Loh to investigate the football program’s culture.
“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,” Board chair James Brady said in the statement. “After a long and robust discussion, the board voted unanimously to assume responsibility for the investigations into these two separate issues.”
Jordan McNair’s family has a different view of coach D.J. Durkin
After ESPN reported on the alleged “toxic culture” at Maryland, the school placed head coach D.J. Durkin on administrative leave. Martin McNair does not have a positive view of Durkin, whose third season as Maryland head coach could end before it even begins.
In an interview with “Good Morning America” last week, McNair was blunt in his assessment of Durkin and said he should be fired.
“He shouldn’t be able to work with anybody else’s kid,” Martin McNair said. “You send your kid away to college for them to be developed into young people, and that’s physically, emotionally and spiritually. And to teach our young kids, our young people that we worked so hard to get there, to, ‘Hey, I’m giving my child to you. Keep him safe.’
“They did anything but that. So of course he should be fired.”
Tonya Wilson, Jordan’s mother, said she believed the culture of Durkin’s program was a contributor to her son’s death.
“Jordan was the type of person who would give his all, give his best, because someone asked him to do something,” Wilson said. “He would always give his all. He wouldn’t have stopped. He wouldn’t have stopped. If that’s the culture, then he didn’t want to be called any names, things that they say they’ve been called.”
Rick Court, the strength coach who led the fatal workout, resigned last week. Head athletic trainer Wes Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall have been placed on administrative leave along with Durkin.
Robinson is alleged to have yelled, “Drag his ass across the field!” while Jordan struggled to complete a series of sprints.
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