The state's attorney's office in Prince George County, Md., is seeking an un-redacted version of the report released Friday regarding University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair's death to determine if criminal charges are in order.
McNair — a 6-foot-4, 325-pound offensive lineman — exhibited symptoms of heat illness during a May 29 workout and died June 13. A report on the circumstances surrounding his treatment was assembled by Dr. Rod Walters based on interviews with coaches and athletic trainers, but the report released to the public by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents is only 74 pages long, whereas the full report is 124 pages. Damning in its own right, the abridged version quotes head athletic trainer Wes Robinson as yelling for McNair "to get the f*** up" and for teammates to "drag his ass across the field." Robinson and athletic trainer Steve Nordwall are currently on leave. In August, the university suspended head football coach D.J. Durkin and accepted the resignation of strength and conditioning coach Rick Court in a settlement agreement.
Prosecutors are mulling legal action.
“We will be requesting a full, un-redacted version of the Walters Report and will begin reviewing all circumstances surrounding Jordan McNair’s death for potential criminal charges,” John Erzen, the spokesperson for the Prince George County State's Attorney's Office, told USA TODAY Sports. “We will investigate this in the same manner we do every case and we will apply the law to the evidence and go from there.”
While Erzen indicated it's too soon to speculate what charges — if any — might be brought, a former prosecutor in the Anne Arundel County State's Attorney's Office told USA TODAY Sports that she expects a criminal investigation of the actions taken by Robinson and others, who may face involuntary manslaughter charges.
"For involuntary manslaughter, it would have to be proven that a person did some unlawful act – or failed to perform a duty – and by doing so acted in reckless and wanton disregard for human life," said Alexander, who is currently defense attorney at Brassel Alexander. "Robinson's comments were aggressive, but did it meet that standard? In hindsight, his statements were disturbing at best and speaks to the whole culture of Maryland football.
"I don’t believe in my heart of hearts that as he was making those aggressive and inappropriate comments that he believed Mr. McNair was in danger of losing his life."
The timeline contained within Walters' report indicates that more than an hour and a half passed between the time McNair first exhibited stress on the field and the time he was transported by ambulance to a hospital. Failure of athletic training staff to recognize McNair's stress and treat it promptly (staff feared McNair might drown in a cold-plunge treatment pool) is made clear in the redacted report, which contains accounts of four players present at the workout, though six were interviewed as part of Walters' independent investigation.
The lack of immediate medical attention could potentially be a factor in whether charges are pursued and definitely would be part of a civil case if McNair's family files a lawsuit, Alexander told USA TODAY Sports. "Civil responsibility is easier to determine than determining if anyone is criminally responsible," she said. "Probable cause to charge is 51 percent, and you could argue that PG County already has that. But in [criminal] court, you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt."
In August, UM president Wallace Loh stated that the "university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made."