In a five-page letter addressed to University System of Maryland Board of Regents chair James T. Brady on Tuesday, an attorney for the parents of Jordan McNair has asked that Brady and the board accept "legal and moral responsibility" for the June 13 death of their 19-year-old son.
According to the letter, which was obtained by ESPN, Martin McNair and Tonya Wilson, Jordan's parents, "are deeply disturbed by the Board of Regents' refusal to accept responsibility for Jordan's death in the face of the independent, powerful and tragic findings of a report that you personally oversaw."
On Friday, the board released the findings of an investigative report from Walters Inc. that revealed members of the Maryland athletic training staff failed to quickly diagnose and properly treat the heatstroke symptoms McNair suffered on May 29.
McNair was admitted to a local hospital with a body temperature of 106 degrees, but nobody took his temperature at the workout or provided cold water immersion treatment, according to the report. He died on June 13 from heatstroke.
At a news conference on Aug. 14, Maryland president Wallace D. Loh said he accepted "legal and moral responsibility" on behalf of the university for the mistakes the athletic training staff made on May 29, but Brady declined to do the same on Friday.
He was asked at the news conference, "Do you believe there was negligence here? Do you back up Dr. Loh's acceptance of moral and legal responsibility?"
Brady answered: "I'm not in a position to make that call at this point in time. I think there is a lot of information we are gathering, and I'm not prepared to make that call. I am prepared to say that the death of this young man is a tragedy."
Hassan Murphy, a managing partner at the law firm Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, wrote in the letter that Brady "equivocated" in his response.
"Your failure to take responsibility for Jordan's death is part of your continuing pattern of insensitivity toward the McNair family, motivated by your attempts to mitigate the tragedy and protect your and the university's interests," Murphy wrote.
Brady was not immediately available for comment, but the University System of Maryland issued the following statement in response to the letter late Wednesday night:
"The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents is deeply saddened by the tragic death of University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) student-athlete Jordan McNair. As board chair James T. Brady stated Friday, Mr. McNair's death has been devastating not only for his family, friends and teammates, but for many others across the USM and the state.
"And while we can never make up for this loss, we can and must obtain all available information as to what happened on May 29 so we can ensure that a tragedy like this never occurs again on any of our campuses.
"To that end, several investigations were launched to gather and establish as many facts as possible. Dr. Rod Walters' review of UMCP's protocols and procedures and how they were implemented is the first to be completed. An independent commission continues to investigate the culture of football at the university, particularly with respect to student health and safety. Finally, the Office of the Attorney General, as it does in all such cases, is conducting an investigation to assess, among other issues, potential legal responsibility.
"We will not speculate, make judgments or attempt to apportion responsibility until all of these investigations are concluded and the Board of Regents has sufficient information to make the decisions necessary to better safeguard the well-being of student athletes at the University of Maryland, College Park and other USM institutions."
In addition to seeking an apology and culpability, the letter asks to see all documentation relating to the deaths of other football players within the state. According to the letter, Frostburg State's Derek Sheely died of concussion-related injuries he sustained in an August 2011 practice. Towson's Gavin Class nearly died from heatstroke in 2013. And both of those schools fall under the University System of Maryland's umbrella. Murphy also asked what lessons the University System learned from the 2014 heatstroke death of Marquese Meadow at Morgan State.
"It is now becoming clear that you are leaving the family no alternative but to establish legal and moral responsibility in a court of law," Murphy wrote. "It is beyond doubt that this litigation will demonstrate a callous disregard and deliberate indifference for Jordan's health, welfare and safety on May 29, and a consistent and systemic pattern of callous disregard for the safety of student athletes at the University System of Maryland."