Maryland Fires 2 More Athletics Officials

November 9, 2018

The University of Maryland at College Park has fired two athletic trainers who were largely blamed for the June death of football player Jordan McNair.

Steve Nordwall, assistant athletic director of athletic training, and Wes Robinson, the head trainer for the football program, were placed on leave in August following McNair’s death and explosive reports of abusive culture in the flagship institution’s football program.

A pair of investigations, taken over by the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, largely confirmed the abuse and that athletics staffers had failed to treat McNair properly after he collapsed from heatstroke in May.

The revelations launched a public drama between the regents and the College Park administration. President Wallace D. Loh announced his retirement for June next year after it was reported the regents wanted to keep head football coach DJ Durkin and Loh disagreed. The regents reportedly threatened to fire Loh instead. But one day after announcing Durkin would remain at the university, Loh defied the regents and fired him.

Regent chairman James T. Brady also stepped down. The system announced his replacement on Wednesday, current regent Linda R. Gooden, who conceded in a statement that the board’s personnel recommendations were wrong and apologized to the McNair family and the College Park campus.

“In its quest to keep an open mind about the facts presented in the two recent reports on the tragic death of Jordan McNair and the University of Maryland, College Park football program, and subsequent interviews with those involved, the board -- in the minds of many -- lost sight of its responsibility to the university system,” Gooden said in her statement.

Nordwall and Robinson’s firings mean at least four officials have lost their jobs over the scandal, including Durkin and Rick Court, a strength and conditioning coach who negotiated a settlement with the university in August. Court, the regents’ investigation found, routinely used inappropriate language and homophobic slurs and on occasion threw weights, food and, once, a trash can full of vomit at athletes.

The regents’ investigation found that Nordwall did not report McNair’s symptoms to his supervisor until more than an hour after they first began. Robinson, meanwhile, pushed McNair during the practice in May, yelling to McNair’s teammates to “get him the fuck up” while he struggled and then “drag his ass off the field,” football players told investigators.

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