An attorney for Jordan McNair’s family sent a letter Thursday to the University of Maryland System’s board of regents urging it not to release a report stemming from an investigation into the football player’s June death before the family has a chance to review the document.
The 17-member board is expected to convene Friday and for the first time will see the report prepared by consulting firm Walters Inc., an athletic training consulting firm that was hired to investigate the May 29 team workout in College Park, where the 19-year-old McNair suffered exertional heatstroke. He died 15 days later in a hospital.
Hassan Murphy, the attorney representing McNair’s parents, said the family deserves to see the findings first.
“Jordan’s parents do not want to learn the details about what happened to their son by watching television tomorrow and seeing a press conference,” the letter stated. “But this apparently has been the Board’s plan. We expected more sensitivity to the McNair family’s rights which are more important than any self-serving press conference you intend to hold.”
A spokesman for the board of regents said Thursday afternoon that the governing body has not yet seen the report but intends to share the findings with the McNair family.
“The board sympathizes deeply with the concerns expressed today and does not intend to share Mr. McNair’s medical information publicly,” the spokesman said. “The board does, however, intend to share the report with Mr. McNair’s family. The Office of the Attorney General has reached out to the McNair family’s representatives to assure them of those facts and to discuss ways to accommodate their concerns while maintaining the board’s commitment to transparency.”
In the letter, Murphy, whose firm did not respond to a request to comment Thursday, said the McNairs have received no updates on the Walters probe and learned through the media that the findings would become public this week.
The attorney argued the family should be able to review the report before it is released, saying “the family has the right to review the Report and insist on redactions of any material that would violate Jordan’s privacy rights or violate federal and state health privacy laws.”
The letter notes that information related to medical treatment could violate state and federal medical privacy laws and both parents have a “strong interest in appropriately protecting the privacy interests of their late son.”
Murphy warned that releasing the report without the family’s consent could subject the school “to serious civil and criminal liability.” On Aug. 24, he gave notice to the state that the family plans to pursue as many as three civil lawsuits, one on behalf of McNair’s estate and others on behalf of both parents. The three claims were filed with the state treasurer, each listing damages “in excess of $10 million.” The filings triggered a review by the state attorney general’s office, which is conducting its own investigation into McNair’s death.
In his letter, Murphy said the board can’t “make a unilateral decision to disregard the rights of Jordan and his parents” by releasing an unredacted report. The board has not specified whether it intends to release to the media the full report, portions or just a synopsis.
“I find it incredible that you never considered the privacy rights of Jordan and his family, or their rights under federal and state privacy laws before simply deciding to release this document to the media,” Murphy wrote. “I find it even more incredible that you never contacted us to review the Report in advance with Jordan’s family to allow them to assert their significant privacy rights, medical and otherwise, under federal and Maryland law. It would be both cruel and unfair to Jordan’s parents if the first time they were to hear the findings and conclusions of the Report was from news accounts and we respectfully request and urge that this does not occur.”