- The Washington Times
Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The University of Maryland announced a partnership with the Jordan McNair Foundation on Wednesday, the same day the state of Maryland approved a $3.5 million settlement between the school and foundation created in honor of the late offensive lineman.

More than two years have passed since Jordan McNair died two weeks after suffering exertional heatstroke at an organized team workout in 2018. McNair’s parents, Tonya Wilson and Martin McNair, created the Jordan McNair Foundation to educate athletes and parents about the dangers of heatstroke.

The partnership between the university and McNair’s foundation includes a $50,000 donation to the foundation for each of the next two years. The athletic department will also work to provide marketing and other fundraising initiatives to raise awareness for the health and safety of athletes.

The partnership will offer health and safety programs, managed through the athletic department and University Health Center, focusing on topics such as heat exertion, concussions, mental health and nutrition.

“Today’s unprecedented settlement and partnership with the University of Maryland further emphasize that our son’s tragic death will not be in vain,” Martin McNair, Jordan’s father, said in a release. “We are now focused on honoring Jordan’s legacy. This includes protecting student athletes at all levels of competition, increasing awareness, education, and prevention of all heat-related illnesses and empowering student athletes, and Dr. Darryll Pines has assured Tonya and me that this work is as meaningful to the university and athletic department as it is to us.”

Maryland football also established the Jordan M. McNair Award for Courage, which will be presented yearly to a player who reflects McNair’s spirit of professionalism athletically and academically, and “dedication to his team, strength in the face of immense adversity, as well as courage and conviction to do the right thing,” according to a release.

The offensive line room in Cole Field House will also be named in McNair’s honor.

“This partnership will not only continue Jordan’s legacy, but will create a lasting impact on the health and safety of all current and future student-athletes here at Maryland and across the world,” coach Mike Locksley said in a statement. “I want to personally thank Jordan’s parents, Marty and Tonya, for their selfless leadership in partnering with the University of Maryland to create something tangible that will educate and positively impact so many. Jordan will always be a part of our Maryland Football family.”

McNair’s death on June 13, 2018, came about two weeks after he suffered heatstroke at a workout. Athletic trainers at the workout didn’t promptly recognize the severity of McNair’s condition, then failed to properly treat McNair with cold water immersion once they did realize.

Cold water immersion has a 100% success rate in preventing heatstroke fatalities when administered quickly, according to the Korey Stringer Institute, which focuses on education and advocacy in preventing sudden death in sport.

Then-university president Wallace Loh accepted “legal and moral responsibility” for McNair’s death based on those missteps. Two independent investigations unfolded, one looking into the actions of the athletic trainers, and another that studied allegations of a toxic team culture under then-coach DJ Durkin.

Durkin was reinstated after the conclusion of those investigations, but after public outcry he was fired one day later. The investigations led to a series of recommendations to overhaul Maryland’s health and safety protocols for athletes.

The athletic department has said all the improvements have been made, such as the incorporation of a head team physician who reports to the University Health Center rather than to the athletic department.

“There is nothing more important for our student-athletes than their health and safety,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines in a statement. “In partnership with the Jordan McNair Foundation, we will cement Jordan’s legacy and enhance a culture of player safety that will forever be a hallmark of Maryland Athletics.”

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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