Maryland accepts responsibility in death of Jordan McNair, parts with Rick Court

Maryland accepts responsibility for McNair's death (1:04)

Maryland President Wallace D. Loh explains that he met with the parents of Jordan McNair to express regret for the events that led to the football player's death. (1:04)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh on Tuesday said the school "accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes" made by its athletic training staff at a workout on May 29 that ultimately led to the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair from heatstroke.

The university also has parted ways with Rick Court, the assistant athletic director for sports performance. Court resigned Monday, according to a letter he posted on Twitter, and reached a financial settlement with the university Tuesday.

Loh said he and athletic director Damon Evans visited with McNair's family in Baltimore earlier Tuesday "to express on behalf of the university our apology for the loss of their son."

Loh added in a written statement, "They entrusted their son to us, and he did not return home."

According to Billy Murphy, the McNair family attorney, McNair had a body temperature of 106 degrees when he was admitted to Washington Adventist Hospital on May 29, and nobody from the university called 911 until an hour after McNair suffered a seizure at 5 p.m.

While Maryland maintains that "no student-athlete, trainer or coach has reported a 5 p.m. seizure" through the external review, Evans said McNair "did not receive appropriate medical care and mistakes were made by some of our athletic training personnel."

McNair died two weeks later on June 13.

"We will do everything within our power to ensure that no University of Maryland student-athlete is ever again put in a situation where his or her safety and life are at foreseeable risk," Loh said in his written statement.

According to preliminary findings from a university-hired external investigation led by Walters Inc., 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.

"The care provided was not consistent with best practices, and heat illness was not properly identified or treated," Evans said Tuesday.

The preliminary findings of the independent review come among a whirlwind of fallout from an ESPN report detailing allegations of verbal abuse, bullying and a general disregard for the players' well-being that centered on Court and were enabled by head coach DJ Durkin.

Court, in his resignation letter, said he was "stepping down to allow the team to heal and move forward."

On Saturday, Durkin was placed on paid administrative leave, but his future remains one of the biggest questions as practices continue under interim coach Matt Canada. When asked what responsibility the head coach has in all of this, Evans said, "at the end of the day, we've got to take a look at that."

"That's why we're having the external review," Evans said, "led by a team of experts to see where we come out."

When asked whether he felt any responsibility for the coaching culture at Maryland, Evans responded first by saying his plan was to make sure there is a safe environment for the student-athletes.

"I believe that I'm the one who can lead us through these very difficult times," Evans said.

On Friday, the school placed head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall on administrative leave, sources told ESPN.

"Make no mistake," Evans said, "we will not tolerate any behavior from any employee within Maryland athletics that is detrimental to the mental or physical well-being of our student-athletes."

Loh said Durkin and others suspended after the ESPN report last week deserve "due process."

"As additional information comes forward," Evans said, "we will do what's appropriate."

Before he was named athletic director, Evans oversaw football at Maryland as an associate athletic director. He was asked Tuesday whether he was negligent in reporting any unacceptable behavior.

"I did not witness those things," Evans said.

To gather more information regarding the allegations of a toxic culture, Loh said he put together a four-person commission:

* 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.

Loh said he has also already contacted "a retired and respected football coach and athletic administrator from outside the university, to be named soon" as the fourth person on the committee.

"We take those reports very seriously, but I say due process does require us to lay out the facts and give people a chance to respond, and then we will act," Loh said. "But this is not going to take forever. This is going to be an expedited, but yet very careful, review with all the confidentiality to allow people to speak confidentially and candidly."

When asked why it took two months for university officials to interview players and coaches, Evans said, "We wanted to make sure we understood everything," and provide the players with any counseling and time they might need to heal emotionally.

"This was a time of grieving, and we were focused on making sure they were OK, and making sure we had people around them to support them," Evans said. "That was our first priority as it relates to what they were going through -- a very, very difficult time."

Tuesday morning was not the first time Evans and Loh met with McNair's parents, Tonya Wilson and Marty McNair. They also met when Jordan was in the hospital.

"Marty and Tonya ... appreciate that President Wallace Loh and Athletic Director Damon Evans met with them today to again offer their condolences and to accept 'legal and moral' responsibility for Jordan's death," said Hassan Murphy, a managing partner at the law firm of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy. "While Marty and Tonya will never get another day with Jordan, Dr. Loh's words were meaningful to them and give them some comfort that he will put the University on the path to change the culture of the program so that no Terrapin family will have to endure the heartache and grief that they feel."

Evans was emotional when speaking about his meeting with McNair's parents on Tuesday morning.

"As a father, there are no words to say to Jordan's parents that are good enough," Evans said. "I have looked into the eyes of a grieving mother and father, and there is simply nothing good enough. We will honor Jordan's life, and we will ensure that a tragedy such as this never happens on our campus again -- by working every single day to provide the safest environment for our student-athletes, on and off the field."

The conclusion of the Walters Inc. investigation is expected on Sept. 15 and will be made public.

Maryland opens its season against Texas on Sept. 1.

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.