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Investigation finds Maryland culpable in death of player

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USA Today

Investigation finds Maryland culpable in death of player

TOWSON, Md. -- An independent investigation into the death of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair has determined that trainers on the scene did not follow proper procedures after he collapsed on the field.

McNair was hospitalized on May 29 after a team workout and died June 13. The family attorney said the cause of death was heatstroke.

Dr. Rod Walters, a former college athletic trainer and sports medicine consultant who led the investigation launched by the school following McNair's death, said Friday "there was a failure to identify symptoms and aggressively treat it."

Maryland athletic director Damon Evans acknowledged last month that "mistakes were made" by the training staff in the treatment of McNair, a 19-year-old sophomore offensive lineman. University President Wallace Loh visited McNair's parents to offer a personal apology for how the situation was handled.

The report released Friday stated that there appeared to be a failure to recognize the severity of the incident and that when the severity was identified, inadequate cooling devices were used in place of cold water immersion or cold whirlpools.

Terrapins head coach DJ Durkin is on administrative leave while an unrelated external investigation into the culture of the football program is being conducted.

According to the report, Durkin was on the scene when McNair collapsed. His role in the events that followed was not made clear.

Much of Walters' report focused on recommendations that would enable a tragedy like this from happening again.

In a release issued before the news conference began, the university wrote: "We made immediate changes following Jordan's death and have continued to make enhancements informed by the preliminary observations of the external review we received this summer."

The list of changes already implemented, according to the school, include an increase in doctors and training at practices and games; additional on-site cooling stations to football training camp and practices consisting of portable spray misters, recovery drinks and cooling towels; and increasing the number and length of recovery breaks.

Officials say the changes were made after receiving preliminary observations of Walker's findings.

Maryland athletic director Damon Evans acknowledged last month that "mistakes were made" by the training staff in the treatment of McNair, a 19-year-old sophomore offensive lineman.

Loh was very candid last month when talking about the school's role in McNair's death.

"They entrusted their son to us, and he did not return home," Loh said of McNair's parents. "The University accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that were made on that fateful day. ... They misdiagnosed the situation."

On that day, the law firm of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, which represents the McNair family, wrote in a statement: "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."

In the wake of McNair's death, an ESPN story reported that the coaching staff engaged in physical and mental abuse of the players.

Durkin was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 11. Strength and conditioning coach Rick Court resigned two days later, and head trainer Wes Robinson, along with Steve Nordwall, an assistant athletic director for training, remain on administrative leave.

Loh distinguished between training staff and coaching staff when he spoke about mistakes that led to McNair's death, but added the reports of "bullying behavior" by football coaches "are totally inconsistent with what we stand for, and our values."

The Walters review was one of two separate ongoing investigations being overseen by the Board of Regents. In addition, an eight-member commission has been appointed to look into the culture of the football program.

That investigation is ongoing.

"The Board of Regents is committed to uncovering all the discoverable facts about Jordan McNair's tragic death, and separately, the culture of the football program," Board of Regents Chair James Brady said.

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been serving as interim coach. Maryland is 2-1 heading into Saturday's Big Ten opener against Minnesota at home.

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A huge second half carries the Maryland Terps over Minnesota

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A huge second half carries the Maryland Terps over Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Anthony Cowan Jr. matched his career high with 27 points and freshman Jalen Smith pitched in a season-best 21 points and eight rebounds, leading Maryland's rally past Minnesota on Tuesday night for a 82-67 victory fueled by sharp free-throw shooting.

Bruno Fernando added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (13-3, 4-1 Big Ten), who went 24 for 27 from the foul line. Cowan, who also had six rebounds and five assists, made all 10 of his free throws as Maryland finished the game with a 21-6 run over the final seven minutes.

Amir Coffey had 16 points and five assists for the Gophers (12-3, 2-2), who clanked their way to defeat by missing 14 of their 23 foul shots. Coffey was 3 for 8, and senior power forward Jordan Murphy was 3 for 9.

The Gophers had a lead as big as 44-36 early in the second half and were still in front as late as the 13-minute mark, but Cowan, the junior point guard on one of the most inexperienced teams in the country, steered the Terrapins to a steely win that will look good in front of the NCAA Tournament selection committee in two months.

Smith zipped a cross-court pass out of a double team down low to find Eric Ayala for a 3-pointer and a 67-61 lead for Maryland. About three minutes later, Smith put the seal on the victory with a driving dunk for a 75-67 advantage.

With a win over Nebraska and a victory at Rutgers, Maryland started the new year and the resumption of conference play strong. This trip to Minnesota's cozy Williams Arena was a stiffer test, giving the young Terrapins the opportunity to win consecutive road games for the first time in nearly two years when they posted victories at Minnesota and Ohio State on Jan. 28 and 31, 2017. They went 2-8 on the home courts of their opponents last season.

Gabe Kalscheur scored 13 points, Daniel Oturu had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Dupree McBrayer added 10 points for the Gophers.

The Gophers entered the game with the second-worst 3-point shooting percentage in the Big Ten, but the freshman Kalscheur, who was just 6 for 34 from behind the arc over the last seven games, came through with three makes in five tries from long range. The most clutch of those was at the 7:50 mark, cutting Maryland's lead to 62-61, but the Terrapins snapped right back with seven straight points to retake control.

With the imposing length inside of Smith and Fernando, their 6-foot-10 duo, the Gophers needed to establish a rhythm with their outside shooting, but nearly every time the Terrapins employed their 2-3 zone defense they successfully kept the home team out of sync.

Coffey ran down a loose ball late in the first half to feed McBrayer for a banked-in 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 1:50 mark, and Coffey scored his first point with a free throw on the next possession. His turnaround with 32 seconds left before the break gave the Gophers a 40-34 advantage, and the junior in his first season as the point guard kept up his aggression to the basket in the second half.

Coffey's feed to Eric Curry for a short jumper gave Minnesota a 54-47 lead, but Cowan led another charge by the Terrapins after that, and this time the Gophers didn't come up with a counter.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Six consecutive Big Ten teams were just below the cut in voting for the latest edition of the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska and Maryland finished 27th through 32nd to give the conference 10 teams with votes from the 64-person panel this week.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: After missing the NCAA Tournament last season after a three-year streak of making it, coach Mark Turgeon's team has a promising nucleus that can only grow in confidence from this win.

Minnesota: Coming off a rousing and rare road win at rival Wisconsin last week, the Gophers bricked away their chance to build some momentum going into the heart of the Big Ten schedule.

UP NEXT

Maryland: Returns home to play 22nd-ranked Indiana on Friday night.

Minnesota: Stays home to face Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.

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Jalen Smith sinks game-winner to propel Maryland past No. 24 Nebraska

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Jalen Smith sinks game-winner to propel Maryland past No. 24 Nebraska

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Nebraska's final attempt to score had gone awry, and as the buzzer sounded, Maryland's players rushed to the middle of the court to celebrate the team's most significant victory of the season.

"We beat a really good team. We need that for a confidence builder," coach Mark Turgeon said after the Terrapins used a late push to get past No. 24 Nebraska 74-72 on Wednesday night.

Bruno Fernando had 18 points and 17 rebounds, Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 19 points and freshman Jalen Smith accounted for Maryland's final seven points to finish with 15, including a tiebreaking layup with 3.8 seconds left.

The Terrapins (11-3, 2-1 Big Ten) had previously lost to Virginia, at Purdue and at home against Seton Hall. Turgeon rarely misses a chance to point out that this is "fifth-youngest team in the country," but he also knows that isn't an excuse for losing.

"Our guys are doing great," Turgeon said. "We're getting better. I'm just glad we won."

Maryland trailed 71-70 before Smith made a follow-shot off a 3-point try by Cowan with 28 seconds left. After James Palmer converted 1 of 2 free throws for Nebraska, Smith drove the middle of the lane for his decisive layup.

Following a timeout, Nebraska (11-3, 1-2) tried to work the ball up the court before Ricky Lindo Jr. knocked away a pass under the basket to seal it.

"It was extremely encouraging for all of us, just to see how far we've come," Fernando said. "Wins like that mean a lot to us, to the coaches, to everybody at the whole University of Maryland."

Palmer scored 26 points and Glynn Watson Jr. added 12 for the Cornhuskers, whose four-game winning streak ended.

Nebraska coach Tim Miles lamented his team's poor free-throw shooting (15 for 23), lack of rebounding (Maryland dominated 38-28) and a defense that allowed the Terps to hit eight 3-pointers.

"You can't give them eight 3s and not rebound. Pick one that you want to be awful at," Miles said.

It was a tough loss to take, as was an earlier seven-point setback at Minnesota, but Miles accepted it as life in the Big Ten.

"You've got to look at it from a global, big-picture perspective and say, 'This is just the way it's going be,'" he said.

The final minutes went back and forth, with neither team able to take charge.

After a three-point play by Smith put Maryland ahead 70-67 with 2:42 left, Watson made two free throws and Palmer turned a steal into a dunk for a 71-70 lead with 2:13 remaining.

That would be the last time the Huskers were in front.

"You hear the celebration in the opposing locker room, and it's disappointing because you probably played well enough to win but you just didn't do enough little things," Miles said.