COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A lot has changed at the University of Maryland College Park campus one year after the death of Terrapins football player Jordan McNair.
McNair, a 19-year-old offensive lineman, died June 13, 2018. He had collapsed two weeks prior from a heat stroke during practice.
The incident catapulted the university into a year-long controversy where both athletic and academic staff were criticized for how they handled McNair’s death.
Some of the biggest changes to result following the events of last June concern health and safety protocols involving student athletes at the University of Maryland [UMD].
In September 2018, Walters Inc., a sports medicine consultant, released a report containing recommendations as to how another tragedy involving a UMD student athlete could be prevented in the future.
The report included 20 recommendations for athletic staff to follow at the university when they treat student athletes.
Recommendations varied from making cold water immersion devices available for all training and practice activities to establishing specific AED locations at athletic venues to guarantee three-minute response times during emergencies.
In March, UMD Athletic Director Damon Evans announced that the university had made progress implementing some of the report’s suggestions.
“To complete 18 of the 20 [recommendations] is significant,” Evans told WUSA9 affiliate WJZ-TV. “We still have 2 very important recommendations to complete. The health and safety and welfare of our student athletes is of the utmost importance.”
Maryland Athletics also recently announced plans to transition to a healthcare model where its athletic medical staff would be employed outside of its existing athletic department.
Since McNair’s death, the UMD football coaching staff has undergone dramatic changes as well.
In January, D.C. native Michael Locksley was named head coach of the football program. Locksley, who was the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama, had previous experience as an assistant coach at UMD under four different head coaches.
Locksley replaced D.J. Durkin as the Terps’ head football coach. Durkin was coach of the program when McNair died.
Durkin had been placed on leave for several months of the Terps’ season before he was controversially reinstated to coach the team. One day after Durkin’s reinstatement, in October, UMD President Wallace Loh decided to fire the coach from the staff.
Durkin was last seen at the University of Alabama in December working with the staff of the Crimson Tide, according to CBS Sports. However, Alabama head football coach Nick Saban said Durkin had not been officially hired to the staff.
President Wallace Loh
Around the same time Durkin was fired from the UMD coaching staff, UMD President Wallace Loh announced that he would eventually retire from his post at the university.
Loh had said in late October that he would eventually leave his post June 2019.
However, Loh is still the president of UMD.
In January, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced it would set June 2020 as the new retirement date for Loh. The board said the purpose of the new date would ensure a smooth transition to the university’s next president.
"Over the last three months, we have been speaking with Dr. Loh and listening to members of the campus community, and to leaders and stakeholders across the state about the upcoming leadership transition," said University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert Caret in a statement. "These discussions have informed our thinking about the path forward that will best ensure an orderly transition, continued strong leadership of the university without interruption, and a successful search process."
Jordan McNair’s parents have worked to inform the public about the threat of heat-related illnesses since their son’s passing.
Jordan’s father, Martin McNair, said his family launched the Jordan McNair Foundation to educate as many people as possible about the threat that heat can pose to the body.
On Thursday, the foundation held the Jordan McNair Health and Wellness Sports Clinic at McNair’s alma mater, the McDonogh School, in Owings Mills.
Jordan’s father Martin McNair said it is his family’s goal to educate.
“My grieving process really kind of goes into our foundation work,” said McNair. “That’s how it usually works for me. It’s a very bittersweet day, however, I think this is our day of giving back to the community and this is how we want to keep Jordan’s legacy alive.”