The attorney representing the family of Jordan McNair, the Maryland offensive lineman who died from heatstroke two weeks after a May conditioning workout, says Terps head coach D.J. Durkin should lose his job.
Billy Murphy, a Baltimore-based attorney representing the McNairs, told ESPN and the Associated Press that Durkin should be fired not only because of what transpired May 29, when McNair collapsed, but also because of the culture of the Maryland football program as a whole.
Murphy told ESPN that the Maryland staff showed “indifference” toward McNair’s life. To the AP, he said “Durkin should be fired immediately.”
“His conduct and the conduct of the coaches was reprehensible. They were not prepared … to deal with a heatstroke incident,” he said.
Durkin, other staff members placed on administrative leave
Durkin, who is entering his third season as Maryland’s head coach, was placed on administrative leave on Saturday alongside three other Terps’ staff members: head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson, director of athletic training Steve Nordwall and assistant athletics director for sports performance Rick Court.
That news came after further details surrounding the events leading up to McNair’s death emerged. ESPN reported Friday 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, which previously launched an external review of the incident, has disputed that McNair had a seizure.
“At no point before during the external review has a student-athlete, athletic trainer or coach reported a seizure occurring at 5 p.m.,” the school said in a statement.
Murphy says there is medical record of the seizure and that “one of the coaching staff personnel” witnessed it.
The workout was led by Court. In a separate ESPN story, multiple players and people close to the program described alleged abusive behavior by Court that included “an environment based on fear and intimidation.” The overall scope of that article focused on the “toxic culture” surrounding the program under Durkin as a whole.
ESPN cited multiple sources who witnessed the fatal workout who say Robinson yelled “Drag his ass across the field!” as he struggled to complete the sprints. Murphy reiterated that to the AP:
“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.”
The McNair family is planning a lawsuit
As he has told the media before, Murphy once again stated that a lawsuit is coming. Details, including who will be the target of the suit, are still being worked out, but he told ESPN that the family could decide to pursue a civil lawsuit.
Murphy said they are “leaning” toward filing a civil lawsuit in federal court but that their preference would be to wait until the university’s external investigation is finished, which is expected on Sept. 15. The attorney said the civil lawsuit could be against the institution, the offices responsible, executives, or a coach or coaches.
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