State of Maryland Unanimously Approves $3.5M Settlement for Jordan McNair's Family

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIJanuary 27, 2021

Maryland offensive lineman Ellis McKennie waves a flag in remembrance of teammate Jordan McNair, who died after collapsing on a practice field during a spring practice, after an NCAA college football game against Rutgers, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, in College Park, Md. Maryland won 34-7. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

The state of Maryland unanimously approved a $3.5 million settlement from its flagship university to the family of former Terrapins offensive lineman Jordan McNair nearly three years after his death, per ESPN's Heather Dinich.

McNair collapsed from heatstroke during a team conditioning session on May 29, 2018. He died two weeks later at the age of 19.

"This has been a painful fight, a very emotional fight," Marty McNair said. "These three years have been painful, however, I know that it prepared us for a larger- scale, nationwide advocacy to stop this from happening and truly make a difference. The only way we really can do this is not by talking effortless at people, but really to implement legislation and policy.

Investigations by ESPN and Maryland officials revealed a toxic team culture under then-head coach D.J Durkin and led to school president Wallace D. Loch publicly accepting "legal and moral responsibility" for the team's inability to "quickly diagnose and properly treat McNair's heatstroke," per Dinich.

Following McNair's death, Durkin was initially put on administrative leave, then returned to his position before public pressure led to his firing in October 2018. Strength and conditioning coach Rick Court resigned in August 2018. Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has since hired Durkin as an assistant coach. 

Wednesday's settlement includes a partnership between Maryland and the Jordan McNair Foundation "to educate the public and athletic programs across the country about topics such as heat exhaustion, concussions, mental health and nutrition." The school will also contribute nearly $300,000 each year for the next decade to establish a student-athlete safety program on campus.  

"This victory today shows a lot of people that—guess what?—it can be done," McNair said. "If there's a wrong to their child or a loss of their child due to negligence along the way, it is possible to get a victory."