Maryland agrees to $3.5M settlement with family of Jordan McNair

Nick Bromberg
·3 min read

The University of Maryland has agreed to a settlement with the family of deceased offensive lineman Jordan McNair.

McNair died on June 13, 2018, after suffering heat stroke during a team conditioning workout on May 29. He was 19 years old. Maryland publicly accepted responsibility for McNair’s death that August.

The settlement is set to be paid upon approval by the Maryland Board of Public Works. The board is set to meet later this month to approve the payout.

Investigation found lapses in Maryland’s response

Maryland outlined the shortcomings in its response to McNair’s symptoms when it accepted responsibility for his death. The school said that it took over 30 minutes for McNair to be removed from the field after he started complaining cramps and he wasn’t taken away from the football facility until 37 minutes after the first 911 call was placed.

The team’s training staff also didn’t take McNair’s temperature after he started showing the signs of heat stroke or immerse him in cold water to help lower his body temperature. An investigator hired by Maryland even said that a quicker and stronger response to McNair’s symptoms after the workout “might have changed things.”

D.J. Durkin fired months later

Head coach D.J. Durkin — now the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss — was placed on administrative leave after McNair’s death. The school conducted an investigation into the culture of Durkin’s program while he was on leave, and the team’s strength coach was fired amid that investigation. That investigation began after reports that players were afraid to speak up and that the football program “lacked a culture of accountability.”

Durkin was initially reinstated after that investigation, as the chairman of the Maryland Board of Regents said that Durkin was “unfairly blamed” for athletic department dysfunction. That decision was reversed days later when Durkin was fired on Oct. 31, 2018, after pressure from state lawmakers.

Pressure to get rid of Durkin also came from McNair’s family. The family had been pressuring the school to terminate Durkin’s contract after McNair’s death. Days after the school accepted responsibility for McNair’s death, his family said they wouldn’t discuss the terms of a settlement with the school until Durkin was fired. When the school made the initial decision to keep Durkin, McNair’s father Martin said that he felt “like I’ve been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in my face.”

In a September 16, 2016, file image lineman Jordan McNair of McDonogh High School. McNair died on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, two weeks after collapsing during a University of Maryland football team workout. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Maryland OL Jordan McNair died in June of 2018 after collapsing during a conditioning workout two weeks earlier. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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