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What we learned from the release of the Walters investigation findings

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Three months after the external review began, the results are public.

NCAA Football: Temple at Maryland Art Pittman-USA TODAY Sports

The day after Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair died at age 19, university officials announced an external investigation into the circumstances into his death. Just over three months later, the findings of that investigation are public.

Dr. Rod Walters reported the results to Maryland’s Board of Regents in a closed meeting Friday. Hours later, he and Board president James Brady took the podium to address the media. As expected, the university-hired football training staff was portrayed in the most negative light out of all parties involved.

The overall results are largely consistent with the initial findings shared with Maryland officials in August. Athletic director Damon Evans said at Maryland’s Aug. 14 press conference that McNair did not receive appropriate medical care, that the university’s emergency response plan was not followed and that heat illness was not properly identified or treated. At the same press conference, school president Wallace Loh made a point not to pin any blame on the football coaching staff.

There’s a second investigation into the culture of the football program, and Brady said Friday that no personnel decisions will be made before that is complete (which should be “pretty soon”). But this is a significant step toward closure.

What we already knew

  • Maryland’s May 29 workout, after which McNair was hospitalized, was the team’s first of the summer, and the 10 110-yard sprints were the first conditioning drill after a standard warm-up.
  • The medical staff did not take McNair’s temperature or check his vital signs. His reported body temperature upon checking into the hospital was 106 degrees.
  • 911 was called at 5:57 p.m., over an hour after the sprints. An ambulance arrived with first responders at 6:02, paramedics arrived at 6:08 and McNair arrived at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park at 6:36. McNair was airlifted to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore later that night.
  • Head coach DJ Durkin was at the workout.

What we learned

  • McNair experienced muscle cramps during the sprints. This is an atypical symptom of heatstroke, Walters said.
  • It took 34 minutes after McNair started showing symptoms for the medical staff to remove him from the field, 67 minutes to call 911 and 99 minutes before he left in an ambulance.
  • Trainers did not use cold water immersion because they were afraid of McNair would drown in the tub “due to the concern of size of the student-athlete and the smaller stature of the athletic trainers providing care.” The staff treated him with cold towels instead.
  • Durkin was on the field for the workout but not involved in the medical treatment of McNair.
  • Surveillance footage of the workout was used for timeline purposes, but Walters said he couldn’t make out anything regarding McNair’s physical condition on the tapes.
  • Walters interviewed just six student-athletes during his investigation. He also interviewed all assistant football coaches.