The University System of Maryland board of regents on Friday unanimously voted to assume authority and control over all aspects of the investigation into the June 13 death of Terrapins offensive lineman Jordan McNair.
There are currently two ongoing investigations: One is led by Walters Inc., which was hired by Maryland to figure out whether staff members followed proper protocol in the treatment of McNair on May 29 when he was hospitalized with heatstroke that eventually led to his death. The second is an investigation into allegations of a toxic culture within the football program that were revealed in a recent report by ESPN. The second investigation was initiated this week by university president Wallace Loh, and is being conducted by a group of four people he has chosen:
* 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.
University of Maryland officials did not immediately return an email Friday asking whether the fourth person has been named yet, but Loh said Tuesday he has already contacted "a retired and respected football coach and athletic administrator from outside the university, to be named soon."
Maryland's board of regents will "assume control" over that commission as well, and will receive both reports. The investigation led by Walters Inc. is expected to conclude Sept. 15, and Loh said that will be made public.
According to a news release late Friday evening, more details about the board's plans will be announced next week.
A special four-hour meeting was held at 10 a.m. Friday in Baltimore, where the board also asked the office of the state attorney general to represent Maryland on "any and all legal claims related to Mr. McNair's death."
The McNair family has hired the law firm of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, and their attorney Billy Murphy told ESPN on Thursday that "we anticipate a prompt resolution of this or else we'll just go back to court."
"Everyone throughout the University System of Maryland was deeply saddened by the death of Jordan McNair," USM Board of Regents Chair James Brady said in a prepared statement. "Our thoughts continue to be with his family and friends, and with everyone at UMCP, at this very difficult time.
"Earlier today, the board of regents was fully briefed by UMCP President Wallace Loh about the circumstances of Mr. McNair's tragic death, about the actions that have been taken since, and finally about the alarming allegations that have emerged in the last week related to the football program," Brady said. "After a long and robust discussion, the board voted unanimously to assume responsibility for the investigations into these two separate issues. Our goal is to ensure that all system universities, including UMCP, are actively working to protect the health and safety of every student and to foster a supportive culture in which everyone can flourish."
Loh issued the following statement: "We welcome the oversight of the Board of Regents at this critical time. We must thoroughly investigate the death of student-athlete Jordan McNair and understand the allegations of the culture of our football program so that we can ensure the health and well-being of every one of our student-athletes. We will continue to honor Jordan's life, and we will work with our Board of Regents to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again."