G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

McNair died in June after collapsing in an offseason workout on May 29, and a new report sheds light on the atmosphere around Maryland before and after his death.

By Jenna West
August 10, 2018

Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair reportedly died of heatstroke in June after collapsing at an offseason team workout, according to ESPN.

McNair, 19, had difficulty standing up while running 110-yard sprints and had a temperature of 106 degrees before falling ill at the May 29 workout, reports ESPN. He died on June 13.

In a second ESPN report, multiple people close to the Maryland program described a toxic coaching culture under head coach D.J. Durkin and strength and conditioning coach Rick Court before McNair’s death. In the report, the sources cited an environment based on fear and intimidation, extreme verbal abuse and the endorsement of unhealthy eating habits, including forced overeating to the point of vomiting.

When coaches wanted a player to lose weight, he was forced to eat candy bars while watching teammates work out, a source told ESPN

A former player claimed that the coaching staff forced an injured player to play tug of war alone and one-handed against the entire defensive back unit. 

"Coach Court called him a p---- after he didn't win," the source said. "One [player] was doing a tug of war ... and he passed out. ... I saw his body slowly giving away, and the strength coach was like, 'Keep pulling, keep pulling!' ... He collapsed on the ground."

On Friday, the university announced that members of the athletics staff were placed on administrative leave. On Saturday, ESPN reported that head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson, director of athletic training Steve Nordwall, and Rick Court, Maryland's assistant athletics director for sports performance, were the staffers placed on administrative leave. 

While no official cause of death has been released, Dr. Rod Walters, a former Maryland trainer, was hired by the university to investigate if coaches and officials followed proper protocols after McNair became ill. Walters's report is expected to be released Sept. 15. McNair's parents hired a Baltimore law firm to also investigate.

On the day of McNair's collapse, the Terrapins' workout started at 4:15 p.m. ET when the temperature outside was around 80 degrees. The players were instructed to run 10 110-yard sprints, and McNair needed help from teammates to complete his final sprint, reports ESPN.

After completing the sprint, multiple sources said that Maryland's head football trainer, Wes Robinson, yelled, "Drag his ass across the field!" The sources also told ESPN that trainers walked McNair around for about 80 yards after he started showing signs of distress. 

"They tried to walk him for a while after he collapsed," a player said to ESPN. "His head, he barely had control over it. His head was limp to the point where it was back. They were walking him across the field to get him up and moving, I guess. But then they basically took him over to position drills, which took a long time. I didn't see them bring him in, but it was a while."

The McNair family attorney, Bill Murphy, told ESPN that McNair had a seizure at 5 p.m. after the sprints. ESPN obtained a copy of a 911 call recording at 5:58 p.m., when McNair was described as "hyperventilating" and "unable to control his breath."

EMTs inspected McNair at the football facilities, calling in a patient with a "seizure" before taking him to the hospital. 

Maryland officials declined to be interviewed but released a statement to ESPN on McNair.

"At no point before or during the external review has a student-athlete, athletic trainer or coach reported a seizure occurring at 5 p.m.," the statement read. "We will be able to speak in greater detail when the review is complete and shared with the public."

McNair's parents claimed in June that he died of heatstroke suffered during the May 29 workout.

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