The University of Maryland board of regents held a closed meeting Friday morning in Baltimore, where it unanimously voted to assume authority and control over all aspects of two university-prompted investigations into the June 13 death of Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair from heatstroke.
Beyond the already-announced suspensions of head coach DJ Durkin and two of his staff members, no major personnel issues have been announced. Here's a look at the current status at Maryland, the key remaining questions, and some answers based on a copy of Durkin's contract obtained by ESPN:
Maryland's response: University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh on Tuesday said the school "accepts moral and legal responsibility for the mistakes" made by its athletic training staff at a workout May 29 that ultimately led to the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair from heatstroke.
Previous fallout: Rick Court, the assistant athletic director for sports performance, resigned Monday, according to a letter he posted on Twitter, and reached a financial settlement with the university Tuesday. On Aug. 10, the school placed head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall on administrative leave, sources told ESPN. On Aug. 11, Durkin was placed on paid administrative leave.
What happens to DJ Durkin? Loh has said that Durkin, along with the two other staff members who have been placed on paid administrative leave, deserve "due process," so he wanted to wait until the university's external investigations have been completed before making any decisions. Maryland hired Walters Inc. to conduct an external review, and its results are expected Sept. 15. McNair's parents, Marty McNair and Tonya Wilson, have said Durkin should be fired.
Can Durkin be fired for cause? According to Durkin's contract, "Cause shall be defined as (i) material misconduct, which is wrongful, immoral (meaning inconsistent with the professional standards of conduct of an intercollegiate head football coach) or unlawful conduct which adversely affects the Coach's ability to meet the performance standards and performance commitment set out in Sections 1 and 3 ..."
From Section 3, paragraph M (among his duties as head coach are ...)
"... conducting himself professionally and ethically, with integrity and sportsmanship, at all times, and avoiding inappropriately profane, discourteous, or insulting behavior towards student-athletes, other teams and coaches, spectators, and members of the media."
Maryland's case to fire Durkin with cause could be open to interpretation based on a subjective definition of "professional standards of conduct."
How much would Maryland have to pay Durkin in a buyout? Maryland would need to pay Durkin roughly $6.5 million. The contract stipulates that the school owes him 65 percent of what is left on his deal through the end of the 2021 season.
Who can fire Durkin? Athletic director Damon Evans is the only person who has explicit ability to fire the head coach, and Evans is contractually obligated to meet with Durkin to discuss reasons for termination if Durkin wants to meet.
What is the status of the investigations? Maryland's board of regents announced Friday afternoon that it was assuming control of the university's two investigations. Maryland had previously hired Walters Inc. to conduct its external probe, which is expected to conclude Sept. 15. Loh said the university would make that report public. According to preliminary findings, the Maryland staff did not take McNair's temperature at the workout, did not apply a cold-water immersion treatment and did not follow the emergency response plan appropriately.
What else is Maryland doing? Loh said he put together a four-person commission to investigate allegations of a toxic culture within the football program. The members are:
• Ben Legg, retired chief judge, U.S. District Court for Maryland;
• Alex Williams, retired judge, U.S. District Court for Maryland and former Prince George's County State's Attorney;
• Charlie Scheeler, senior counsel, DLA Piper. The former prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's Office for Maryland also was the lead counsel for the investigation of steroids use in Major League Baseball as well as the monitor of Penn State's compliance under its Athletics Integrity Agreement with the NCAA and the Big Ten.
Who is the fourth person on the committee? As of Friday evening, Maryland hadn't announced this. Loh said Tuesday he has already contacted "a retired and respected football coach and athletic administrator from outside the university, to be named soon."
What's next legally? Billy Murphy, one of the McNair family attorneys, told ESPN on Thursday their next step is to have discussions with Maryland officials about a possible settlement. Murphy said he was astounded at Loh's statement Tuesday accepting responsibility.
"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."
Could this be a criminal case? John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's office, said, "There isn't a criminal investigation and no decision has been made as to whether or not there will be one, but we are certainly watching very closely as the university investigation continues."
What's next for the parents? Wilson and McNair 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.
"That's all I have," Tonya said. "I'm like a puzzle with a missing piece, and trying to find something to fill. That piece is working through the foundation."