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COLLEGE PARK, MD (CBSMiami) – The University of Maryland is investigating football coach D-J Durkin’s team culture after placing two key members of the coaching staff on leave.
This comes after an attorney representing the family of a deceased 19-year-old lineman accused team leaders of absolute indifference to Jordan McNair’s life.
The family said McNair died of heatstroke after intense drills.
According to ESPN, it was about 80 degrees on May 29 when McNair showed signs of extreme heat exhaustion about 45 minutes into a pre-season workout. Witnesses said the offensive lineman had difficulty standing while running 110-yard sprints, a tough but common workout for many football teams.
McNair then had convulsions and suffered a seizure before collapsing on the field. He was taken to hospital where he died 15 days later.
“The conduct of the coaches was reprehensible in causing this death. They showed complete indifference,” attorney Bill Murphy who is representing McNair’s family.
He said coaches should have seen the warning signs.
“Is this man suffering from the symptoms of heat stroke and the answer to that would have been, ‘yes, yes, yes’ and he would have been taken into the training room and iced down,” said Murphy.
In June, Coach Durkin responded to news of McNair’s death at a press conference.
“My heart (is) broken,” he said, “It’s not reasonable that a nineteen-year-old should pass away.”
Several current and former UMD football players and staffers, including McNair’s family, believe a coaching style defined by intimidation is partly to blame.
According to ESPN, there was often extreme verbal abuse, coaches would throw weights toward players, and some players claimed if a player was on the ground from exhaustion, medical staff would drag them off the ground and make them run. A player was once allegedly belittled for passing out during a drill.
The McNair family is now considering legal action.
In a statement the university promised a full investigation, saying in part, “humiliating and demeaning a student is not only bad teaching and coaching, it is an abuse of the authority of a teacher and coach.”
The McNair’s attorney says the family is now ‘leaning’ toward filing a civil lawsuit.