Maryland moving to independent medical model after Jordan McNair death
COLLEGE PARK, Md. Nearly a year after offensive lineman Jordan McNair suffered heatstroke at an offseason football workout that led to his death, the University of Maryland announced it is implementing the last of 20 recommendations it received from one of its commissions on student-athlete health and safety.
Maryland will restructure its athletic medical care model and hire a head football team physician that reports ultimately to the university president.
Rod Walters, who headed the school’s commission and now chairs its newly-established athletic medical review board, told reporters the head physician should have the background of a sports medicine expert or an athletic trainer and be allowed “autonomous decision-making.”
Another review board member, Matthew Leiszler, the head football team physician at Notre Dame, said the structure is “a little bit unique at this point” but believes it’s starting to become the trend nationally.
“In order to provide independent medical care in a student-athlete-centered medical model, we thought the first priority was to move that out of athletics, specific for the University of Maryland,” Leiszler said. “As athletic departments are moving forward, I do anticipate this is going to be a trend and I’m really pleased the University of Maryland is really leading this trend within college athletics.”
Shortly after national reports surfaced last August that former football coach D.J. Durkin fostered a culture of “fear and intimidation” within Maryland football, The Washington Post learned that former athletic director Kevin Anderson recommended to President Wallace D. Loh that Maryland establish an independent medical model, reporting to the university’s school of medicine located in Baltimore. Loh nixed the plan.
Now, the university has decided to go forward with a version of that model, but Walters and athletic director Damon Evans noted that the head team physician will be based in College Park, not Baltimore, to be closer to and more integrated with campus.
“Most important to me, and to us as an institution, is that we get this right moving forward,” Evans said.