Nearly two months after Jordan McNair suffered fatal heatstroke during an organized team workout, Maryland football coach DJ Durkin expressed confidence in the program’s safety procedures, and said the program has adjusted its protocols to better monitor player safety.
Speaking to reporters at Big Ten media days in Chicago, Durkin also said no Terps players or coaches have been interviewed by Walters Inc., the consulting firm Maryland hired to investigate “all relevant policies and protocols involving student-athlete health and safety.”
“We want the same answers. To speak to someone and tell them what happened that day is fine,” Durkin told ESPN. “There were a lot of people there. Be honest, be truthful, be forthright, and let’s get the answers.”
McNair had trouble recovering from a conditioning test May 29 and was airlifted to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He died two weeks later. Though the school has not confirmed the cause of death, McNair’s family and lawyers say he died from heatstroke.
Durkin also said the program has made some adjustments to its policies at team workouts. He told The Washington Post that the team is working to be “more cognizant of all the things we are doing with our guys.”
“Being aware of their hydration levels, being aware of communicating out on the field, all those things we’ve looked at,” Durkin said. “We made adjustments already with that. We’ll continue to make adjustments.”
McNair’s family has hired the law firm Murphy, Falcon & Murphy to pursue potential legal remedy against the school. Hassan Murphy, a managing partner at the firm, issued a response to Durkin’s comments.
“We do not share Coach Durkin’s confidence, and we frankly don’t understand his confidence given that a beloved player of his has died on the practice field and without the benefit of a full and complete investigation,” Murphy told ESPN. “His confidence amplifies our fear that the University’s investigation will be driven by the their self-interest. We will await the completion of their investigation but more importantly, ours.”
Another Murphy, Falcon & Murphy attorney previously told The Washington Post that the firm conducted interviews players who were at the workout and reported McNair couldn’t finish a conditioning test under his own power, a fact that has not been included in the timeline presented by the university.
Walters Inc. began its investigation in late June. The school has said it could last up to 90 days.
It’s unclear what treatment McNair received after suffering heatstroke. The Korey Stringer Institute, a nonprofit group dedicated to preventing sudden death in sports, says heatstroke has a 100 percent survival rate when treated correctly with cold water immersion.