Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who died Wednesday, was rushed to the hospital May 29 after “having difficulty recovering” from conditioning drills in an organized team workout.
This information was provided by Maryland executive athletic director Damon Evans in a news conference Thursday in College Park. Evans declined to disclose what caused McNair to have trouble recovering from a series of 110-yard sprints and declined to share the cause of McNair’s death, citing confidentiality and respect for McNair’s family. McNair, a Randallstown, Md., native who attended McDonogh School, was a 19-year-old redshirt freshman.
“We understand and recognize that when a young individual, especially an athlete, has an untimely and unexpected death, there are a lot of questions,” Evans said. “I want you to know that these situations are ones that are unexpected, that we don’t look to be a part of what we do every day. And as you might expect, we have been looking into this situation since Jordan was hospitalized.”
Evans was joined by Coach DJ Durkin, who gave an emotional two-minute reflection on McNair, and Frank Henn, a team physician who did not answer questions. Evans said “we are here to provide as many details as we possibly can,” though many circumstances surrounding McNair’s death remain unclear.
On May 29, Evans said, Maryland players gathered for a scheduled, supervised workout at approximately 4:15 p.m. on the Terrapins’ practice fields. The workout was supervised by the team’s strength and conditioning staff, and certified athletic trainers were “present throughout,” Evans said. All eligible football players participated in the workout. Trainers noticed McNair was having trouble recovering from a drill — later described by Evans as a “baseline conditioning activity” that included 10 110-yard sprints — and began “supporting active recovery and providing necessary care.” Evans said McNair finished all 10 of the sprints in “approximately” 80-degree weather and that each player was provided with a “gallon of water earlier that morning to make sure they are fully hydrated.”
Evans could not confirm how long it took for trainers to notice that the 6-foot-4, 325-pound McNair was struggling to recover. McNair soon was helped onto a cart and moved to a training room inside Maryland’s football facility, and “at that time medical personnel was called and 9-1-1 was dialed.” Emergency medical services arrived shortly after, and McNair was transferred to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore at approximately 6 p.m.
McNair was in the hospital for 15 days, at one point receiving a liver transplant, before his death was announced Wednesday.
“My heart is broken for the reason that we’re all even sitting here having this press conference,” Durkin said after 20 seconds of silence, his eyes welling with tears. Durkin then took long pauses as he discussed McNair. “It’s not reasonable that a 19-year-old should pass away. It’s not reasonable that a family and parents . . . his parents, Marty and Tonya, should ever have to go through this. Jordan was such a tremendous person. As big as he was stature-wise, his heart was much bigger.”
Evans said an external review on the situation is ongoing with “outside constituents,” but he declined to say who or what organization is conducting it. Evans also did not expand on what, exactly, is being reviewed at this time but did say Maryland will “do [the review] in a prudent manner and make sure that it’s not one that is rushed, it’s one that is done extensively.”
McNair played in one game for Maryland last season, making his college debut against Towson, and joined the Terrapins as a four-star recruit in the fall of 2017.
“The prudent thing to do and the right thing to do when a situation like this arises is to do a review,” Evans said. “To make sure the proper protocols were followed, we believe that it’s important to bring in an external group to conduct the review.
“We started that process of discussing from the moment Jordan was hospitalized, and we will have a team that will provide us the necessary feedback so that we can move forward.”