Maryland Football Fires Head Coach After Player Death

On Oct.31, the University of Maryland fired its head football coach, DJ Durkin, following the death of offensive linemen Jordan McNair.

On May 29, the Maryland football team was running sets of 110-yard sprints at practice when McNair could not finish the sprints and was hospitalized. McNair was hospitalized after showing signs of heat stroke and exhaustion while participating in the football workout.

Photo via People

On June 13, Jordan McNair died in the hospital at age 19. The cause of his death was determined as heat stroke. 

The next day, Athletic Director, Damon Evans, announced in a press conference that an investigation would occur.

On Aug. 11, Head Coach DJ Durkin was placed on administrative leave, and Matt Canada was named the Interim Head Coach for the football program. With the investigation still ongoing, Maryland upset Texas in their first game of the season while wearing “79” patches in McNair’s honor.

On Sep. 21 of 2018, the USM board released the findings of the investigation by Rod Walters into the May 29 incident at the football practice.

Walters reported that Maryland football’s athletic trainers were too late in recognizing McNair’s symptoms, and were not able to treat him properly for heat stroke.

Walters explained that the staff did not act properly: “There was a failure to identify escalating symptoms associated with exertional heat illness including assessing vital signs, identifying the condition and aggressively treating the patient’s elevated core temperature. No apparatus was used for prompt cooling of the patient.” He also indicated that there was a time gap of more than ninety minutes passed from the end of the workout until McNair was transported to the hospital.

On Oct. 30, 2018, Head Coach DJ Durkin was reinstated after School President Wallace Loh said he would have been fired if he did not reinstate him.

Photo via Baltimore Sun

According to ESPN, Durkin returned to practice and held a team meeting, but a few players walked out of that meeting in protest. 

McNair’s father, Marty McNair, was upset at the decision made earlier in the day. “I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach, and somebody spit in my face.”

The following day on Oct. 31, Loh tells Evans that Durkin must be fired. Evans then informs Durkin of his firing. Durkin left the building without the addressing the team, and Evans informed the team Durkin had been relieved of his duties and that Canada would yet again be the interim head coach for the program.

Photo via Time Magazine

Marty McNair was proud of Loh’s decision under pressure, but still knows he will never get his son back, stating, “It’s a step in the right direction to try to put some closure to this.”

On Nov. 3, the University of Maryland football team knelt before the “79” that was painted behind one of the end zones.

Maryland fell that day to visiting Michigan State, falling to 5-4 on the season. They lost in overtime at home to #10 ranked Ohio State on Nov. 17, and finished a tough season losing to football powerhouse Penn State.