Maryland 'accepts responsibility' for 'mistakes made' in death of Jordan McNair, strength coach resigns

The University of Maryland has parted ways with assistant athletics director for sports performance Rick Court.

The school announced the news Tuesday afternoon in a press conference from university president Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans. The decision comes on the heels of the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and subsequent reporting on the culture of head coach D.J. Durkin’s football program.

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McNair, 19, died from heatstroke two weeks after a May 29 conditioning workout — a workout reportedly led by Court, the football team’s strength coach. A source told Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel that Court reached a financial settlement of $315,000 with the university on Tuesday after tendering his resignation on Monday.

Maryland athletic director Damon Evans speaks at an introductory news conference, Tuesday, June 26, 2018, in College Park, Md. Evans, who joined the school in December 2014, replaces Kevin Anderson, who resigned in April. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In recent weeks, details surrounding the events leading up to McNair’s death have emerged. ESPN reported that McNair had difficulty standing upright while running 110-yard sprints during a May 29 workout that began around 4:15 p.m. and later had a seizure around 5 p.m.

Maryland launched an external investigation into what happened that day. On Tuesday, Loh said after receiving preliminary results from the ongoing investigation that mistakes were made by the medical staff.

“The university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes our training staff made on that fateful day of May 29,” Loh said.

Loh said the school’s athletic training staff — “not the coaching staff” — “misdiagnosed” the situation.

Evans added: “Our athletic training staff did not take Jordan’s temperature and did not apply a cold water immersion treatment.” McNair died from heatstroke.

Last Friday, another ESPN piece was published detailing an alleged “toxic culture” surrounding Durkin’s program. Court, who Durkin once described as “the most important hire” he made, was prominently mentioned in the ESPN report.

On Saturday, Durkin, who is entering his third season as Terps head coach, was placed on administrative leave. Three other staff members — Court, head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall — were also placed on leave. Durkin, Evans said, remains on leave.

ESPN cited multiple sources who witnessed the fatal workout, which was reportedly led by Court with Durkin in attendance. During the workout, multiple witnesses say Robinson yelled, “Drag his ass across the field!” as McNair struggled to complete the sprints. Billy Murphy, the attorney representing McNair’s family, reiterated that to the Associated Press:

“We have corroborated facts that Wes Robinson made completely callous statements to Jordan McNair as he was suffering from heatstroke, as his temperature was rising to 106 degrees,” Murphy said. “He yelled at Jordan McNair, ‘Drag (your butt) across the field.’ That is absolutely reprehensible and completely reflects the culture that we’re saying and has been pervading the University of Maryland.”

Loh said the school is taking the ESPN report very seriously and has set up a four-person committee to investigate the culture surrounding the football program.

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