McNair’s family asks Maryland board to accept responsibility for son’s death

A week after an independent report examining the death of former football Jordan McNair was released publicly, lawyers representing the family have sent a letter asking Maryland and its Board of Regents to accept “legal and moral responsibility” for the death of their son earlier this year.

The letter, which was obtained by ESPN on Wednesday, is aimed squarely at the school’s board after school president Wallace Loh rather directly took the blame at a press conference in August and accepted responsibility for McNair’s death. However, at presser announcing the findings of an independent investigation last week in College Park, board chairman James Brady declined to say whether or not there was negligence on behalf of the football program despite a clear timeline that showed numerous mistakes from Terrapins medical staff and coaches at the time in question.

“Your failure to take responsibility for Jordan’s death is part of your continuing pattern of insensitivity toward the McNair family, motivated by your attempts to mitigate the tragedy and protect your and the university’s interests,” the letter read, in part.

Lawyers representing the family have previously said that they will not even begin discussions regarding a settlement with the school until head coach D.J. Durkin — who remains suspended at the moment — is fired.

In response to the letter, the school issued the following statement to ESPN: 

“The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents is deeply saddened by the tragic death of University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) student-athlete Jordan McNair. As board chair James T. Brady stated Friday, Mr. McNair’s death has been devastating not only for his family, friends and teammates, but for many others across the USM and the state.

“And while we can never make up for this loss, we can and must obtain all available information as to what happened on May 29 so we can ensure that a tragedy like this never occurs again on any of our campuses.

“To that end, several investigations were launched to gather and establish as many facts as possible. Dr. Rod Walters’ review of UMCP’s protocols and procedures and how they were implemented is the first to be completed. An independent commission continues to investigate the culture of football at the university, particularly with respect to student health and safety. Finally, the Office of the Attorney General, as it does in all such cases, is conducting an investigation to assess, among other issues, potential legal responsibility.

“We will not speculate, make judgments or attempt to apportion responsibility until all of these investigations are concluded and the Board of Regents has sufficient information to make the decisions necessary to better safeguard the well-being of student athletes at the University of Maryland, College Park and other USM institutions.”

Needless to say, we’re still only in the beginning stages of dealing with the fallout surrounding McNair’s death and things are certainly trending toward a protracted battle between the school and the family of a player who was lost far too soon for very preventable reasons.