University of Maryland, family settle in athlete death

Nicole Acevedo
·2 min read

The University of Maryland, College Park and the state's Office of the Attorney General have reached a $3.5 million settlement with the family of Jordan McNair, the 19-year-old football player who died in June 2018 after suffering a heatstroke following an off-season team workout.

The settlement is pending approval from the Maryland Board of Public Works, which is scheduled to meet on Jan. 27 to discuss the matter. The approval would mark the final step in the two-year-long settlement process for McNair's parents, Martin McNair and Tonya Wilson.

"Marty and Tonya are relieved that this fight is over and to put this behind them as they continue to mourn Jordan’s death," Hassan Murphy, an attorney representing the parents, said in a statement. "They are committed to channeling their grief and loss into the work that remains to protect the lives of student-athletes around the world by educating them about the signs and risks of exertional heat stroke."

Jordan McNair (WMAR Video)
Jordan McNair (WMAR Video)

McNair collapsed during a team workout on May 2018 and was hospitalized with heatstroke. He died fifteen days later on June 13, 2018. A few months later, reports of a culture of intimidation and abuse under then-head coach DJ Durkin and his staff surfaced, NBC Sports reported. Durkin was later fired after the university faced pressure from its faculty, students and lawmakers. A previous independent investigation into McNair's death found that the Maryland medical staff failed to properly identify and treat McNair's symptoms, which contributed to his death.

In August 2018, university officials apologized to McNair's family for the mistakes that led to the death of the young, promising football player who was touted as a four-star recruit and ranked in the top 25 nationally for offensive linemen.

McNair's family started the Jordan McNair Foundation quickly after his death in an effort to raise awareness about heat-related illness at youth, high school, and collegiate sports levels. Martin McNair recently spoke out about using "legislation in the mission to raise awareness of heat-related illness and keep our student athletes safe."

"And we, as a firm, are committed to working with them and the Maryland Legislature to reform the tort laws of this state so that no family’s recovery is potentially limited by law to an amount that is less than what the responsible party received on his way out the door," said Murphy.

At least 30 college football players died from heatstroke between 2000 and 2018, according to the American Council on Science and Health.