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Maryland apologizes for Jordan McNair's death, announces 4-person panel to investigate football program culture

Maryland called a press conference Tuesday to formally and publicly apologize for the university's culpability in Jordan McNair's June 13 death and to announce a four-person panel to oversee a review of the culture within the football program.

The announcement comes after D.J. Durkin was placed on administrative leave Saturday, which was in response to an ESPN report that detailed a toxic culture inside the Terps' football program.

The four-person pannel is comprised of former U.S. District Court judge Brenson Legg, former U.S. District Court judge Alex Williams, Baltimore lawyer Charles Scheeler and a former head football coach and AD that Maryland president Wallace Loh did not name.

The panel will interview parents, coaches, student-athletes and staff and then compile a report in an "expedited" process, Loh said. Despite the speculation immediately invited by Maryland's calling of a press conference, Durkin was not fired today. "Due process does require us to lay out the facts," Loh said.

However, AD Damon Evans said the school has fired head strength coach Rick Court and would not commit that Durkin would be back by the Terps' Sept. 1 opener against Texas.

The genesis for the ESPN report that got this entire ball rolling was McNair's June 13 death, two weeks after he collapsed following a supervised team workout. Maryland is currently inducting a separate investigation into McNair's death and the Terps' response thereafter, and committed to making the findings public upon its mid-September completion. Loh said the school takes "legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes our training staff made on that fateful morning." Evans followed by laying out the specific ways in which Maryland's training staff failed following that May 29 workout:

  • McNair did not receive appropriate medical care and mistakes were made by some of our athletic training personnel," Evans said.
  • Maryland's emergency response plan was not followed.
  • Care Maryland provided was not consistent with best practices in the training profession.
  • McNair's heat illness was not properly identified or treated. The Maryland staff did not take McNair's temperature or apply cold water treatment.

Evans was asked if, since Durkin is being held responsible for the culture installed by his staff, he is in turn responsible for the football staff's culture as well, since Evans is the athletics director. Evans sidestepped the question. "My plan moving forward is to make sure that we evaluate that culture, those allegations of that culture, and make sure that the environment we provide for our student-athletes is one that is safe and conducive for them to learn and grow and develop, and that they have an overall good experience," he said. "I believe that I'm the one that can lead us through these very difficult times."

Durkin, 40, was hired as Maryland's head coach following the 2015 season. He previously served in defensive coordinator roles at Florida and Michigan and as the special teams coordinator at Bowling Green and Stanford. He has posted a 10-15 mark in his two seasons in College Park. Rick Court released the following statement this afternoon:

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.