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Maryland places members of athletics staff on administrative leave

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The news comes around the same time as multiple ESPN reports on the circumstances surrounding Jordan McNair’s death.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

This story has been updated as the names of the staffers on leave have been reported.

Maryland has placed “members of the athletics staff” on administrative leave as it awaits the results of an external investigation into Jordan McNair’s death, a university spokesperson said Friday.

McNair was hospitalized after an organized team workout on May 29, the Terps’ first of the summer. He died June 13; the cause of death was later revealed to be a heatstroke. The university hired Walters, Inc. to conduct an investigation into whether university coaches and officials followed proper protocols after McNair became distressed. Results of that investigation are expected by Sept. 15.

On Saturday morning, ESPN’s Heather Dinich and Adam Rittenberg reported the staffers on leave are strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, head football trainer Wes Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall. The Baltimore Sun’s Don Markus reported Friday night that DJ Durkin remains head football coach.

Here’s the full university statement:

Following the death of Maryland football player Jordan McNair in June, the University of Maryland commissioned an external review of the procedures and protocols surrounding athletes’ health and safety. Pending the final outcome of this review, the university has placed members of the Athletics staff on administrative leave. We will be able to speak in greater detail when the review is complete and shared with the public. Our thoughts remain with Jordan McNair’s family, friends and teammates.

The football team has not opened any of its fall practices to local media. Head coach DJ Durkin, who was revealed last month to be at the workout in question, has been cautious in addressing the situation in the press.

“We want the same answers,” he said at Big Ten Media Days in late July. “To speak to someone and tell them what happened that day is fine. There were a lot of people there. Be honest, be truthful, be forthright, and let’s get the answers.”

Firsthand accounts of the workout were reported by ESPN’s Heather Dinich on Friday afternoon. They don’t look good for Maryland. Athletic director Damon Evans has said McNair completed the entire workout before falling ill, but Dinich’s report contains accounts to the contrary.

“There’s no way he finished on his own,” one of the players at the workout told ESPN.

”There were multiple people that said, ‘Wow, Jordan looks f---ed up, he doesn’t look all right,’” the player said. “We knew he was really exhausted, but we didn’t know he was in danger of his life. But that doesn’t mean that a medical professional shouldn’t know to put him in an ice tub.”

Multiple sources said that after the 10th sprint finished, Wes Robinson, Maryland’s longtime head football trainer, yelled, “Drag his ass across the field!”

A second player at the workout told ESPN: “Jordan was obviously not in control of his body. He was flopping all around. There were two trainers on either side of him bearing a lot of weight. They interlocked their legs with his in order to keep him standing.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, heatstroke can occur when a body temperature rises to 104 degrees or higher, and “the damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing risk of serious complications or death.” McNair’s body temperature was 106 degrees when he arrived at the hospital, per ESPN.

The McNair family has hired the Baltimore law firm of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy to perform its own investigation. A preliminary investigation found “an unexplained one-hour time period when nothing significant was done to avoid the complications of heatstroke,” family attorney Billy Murphy said. According to Murphy, a lawsuit is “likely” to be filed.