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Parents of Jordan McNair say Maryland Terrapins coach DJ Durkin 'needs to go'

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NEW YORK -- Marty McNair, the father of late Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair, told ESPN on Thursday that football coach DJ Durkin should be fired because he didn't deliver on his recruiting promise -- simply taking care of Jordan.

"When I think of DJ Durkin, all I remember is him sitting at our kitchen table and assuring me that he would take care of my son," Marty McNair said, "and he did anything other than that.

"I think he should be relieved of his job. I don't think that he should be allowed to coach anyone else's child in an environment like this. My child died. That's something we'll never get back. That's something that will never heal. Yeah, he needs to go."

In an interview with ESPN at the Algonquin Hotel, Marty McNair and Jordan's mother, Tonya Wilson, openly grieved the June 13 death of their son as they talked about his final practice on May 29, which ultimately led to heatstroke.

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The University of Maryland board of regents has called a special meeting Friday to receive updates about the school's actions in the wake of the June 13 death of football player Jordan McNair.

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Maryland's practice under interim coach Matt Canada featured two tents that were used as cooling stations, providing misting fans and plenty of fluids and snacks for players.

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A rundown of the events that led to Maryland football coach DJ Durkin being placed on administrative leave and the resignation of strength coach Rick Court.

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Speaking publicly Thursday for the first time, Jordan's parents shared the whirlwind of emotions they've experienced as they have learned -- piece-by-piece -- what happened to their son at his final workout.

"Some things that are coming out now ... I had no idea that his temperature was still 106 at the hospital. No one did anything to even help cool him down. That's the part that bothers me most, is that I couldn't help him," Wilson said, breaking down into tears as she spoke.

"I couldn't help him. There was nothing I could do."

A slow trickle of information about the fateful workout began with a phone call around 8 p.m. on May 29. Tonya Wilson said an official from the University of Maryland Police Department called her and said she and Marty "need to get to Washington Adventist," where Jordan had been taken by ambulance.

"The caller never said what happened to Jordan over the phone," Wilson said. "But when we got to the hospital, they said he suffered a seizure."

Details about Jordan's death were reported at the same time as an ESPN investigation into the culture at Maryland that included the use of fear and intimidation toward players via extreme verbal abuse and other methods.

According to records obtained by ESPN, Jordan suffered a seizure around 6 p.m., at the time of the 911 call.

"I had no idea that he was that sick," she said. "It took us forever to get to Washington Adventist. It was horrible."

When they arrived, members of the coaching staff and training staff were already there, Marty McNair said, and Jordan was in a coma, wearing a cooling suit.

McNair said he asked one of the trainers if something like this had ever happened before. "And he said, 'not on my watch,'" McNair recalled.

"We were still trying to grasp what was going on at that time," Marty McNair said. "... We knew it was bad, but we didn't know how severe it was. We went from a healthy child on Tuesday morning to talks of a liver transplant within 24 hours."

Jordan received a liver transplant, McNair said, but that "so much organ failure and so much damage was done prior to the liver transplant, that the transplant didn't even do a lot."

Added Wilson: "I wouldn't wish this on any parent. Any parent. My soul aches. I miss him so much."

McNair said Durkin was at the hospital every day the first week, and Wilson said Durkin and his wife called her following Jordan's funeral on June 20 to offer condolences.

"But any other [university] officials," Wilson said of contact after the funeral, "nothing."

McNair said university president Wallace Loh visited the hospital once, and athletic director Damon Evans visited the hospital two or three times to offer support.

McNair agreed with his wife that they didn't hear anything from Loh or Evans after the funeral until last week.

"No," McNair said, "there was none [contact]. It was very disheartening. But I didn't hear anything from anyone."

Loh and Evans visited with McNair and Wilson in Baltimore on Tuesday morning. It wasn't until a news conference later that day that Wilson learned the Maryland athletic training staff didn't even take her son's temperature.

Her jaw literally dropped.

"That was my reaction: 'Really?'" Wilson said. "I mean, I'm not in the medical field, and ... first thing you should do, take his vitals, check his temperature. I didn't understand. I didn't understand. Why not?"

Marty McNair and Wilson established the Jordan McNair Foundation in June in memory of their son. Its purpose is to educate student-athletes, parents and the football community on the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and heatstroke.

McNair said the money Jordan had in his bank account was donated to scholarships, and Jordan's old cell phone number is now used as the line for the foundation.

"So that's how we keep his name alive," McNair said. "With the work that we're doing and the mission that we have, and his name. "And at the end of the day, I know Jordan would want for his legacy to save lives, save another life to prevent them from going through this, to have a voice of some type of legislation where we can get this treated with the same severity as a concussion, especially on the football field.

"It's three heat-related injuries per year, every year, in the first two weeks of football practice. This has to change. This has to change. So I think that's what Jordan would want."

McNair and Wilson were accompanied Thursday by lawyers from their legal team of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, who at times interjected to avoid having them answer questions about the full extent of what they've learned about the events of May 29. Billy Murphy, one of the family attorneys, said their next step will be to have discussions with Maryland officials about a possible settlement.

Murphy said he was astounded at Loh's statement Tuesday, in which he said the university accepts "moral and legal responsibility for the mistakes" made by its athletic training staff that ultimately led to Jordan McNair's death.

"Now if that's what they really mean," Murphy said, "the next step will be to have discussions with them about the measure of damages to be paid to this young man's family. And we anticipate a prompt resolution of this or else we'll just go back to court."

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Wednesday, 12 December 2018