University of Maryland Won’t Disclose Cause of Football’s Latest Conditioning Death — Another Case With Strong Echoes of Ted Agu at Cal in 2014

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by Irvin Muchnick


Another college football player has died during offseason conditioning drills, and his institution isn’t saying why. Sound familiar?

Jordan McNair, a 19-year-old, 325-pound offensive lineman at the University of Maryland, was hospitalized after collapsing at the conclusion of sprint drills on May 29. He died on June 13. Athletic director Damon Evans and head football coach DJ Durkin cite family privacy in declining to disclose cause of death.

Evans also said that there will be no forensic autopsy and that Maryland will undertake an “external review” of its strength and conditioning program procedures. He didn’t name the reviewers.

Last year the Washington Post published a fawning profile of Rick Court, Maryland’s strength and conditioning coach, under the headline “Summer is college football season for Maryland’s strength coach.” The article reads a lot like the tough-love press clips for Damon Harrington, the Cal strength coach whose extreme drills drove Ted Agu to death in 2014. According to the piece, Court carries around cards listing individual player’s medical conditions, including “sickle cell anemia” — the reporter must have meant to write “sickle cell trait.” See

There have been approximately 30 conditioning deaths in college football since 2000. While we don’t yet know what caused the McNair fatality, it is known that he underwent a liver transplant during his hospitalization; this makes exertional heatstroke the leading suspect. In 2013 a player at nearby Towson University, Gavin Class, had a liver transplant after being stricken during conditioning, and would go on to lose a long legal fight to resume playing for the football team after he recovered.

I am in the middle of California Public Records Act litigation for more internal university documents related to the Ted Agu death. The next hearing in Alameda County Superior Court is scheduled for August 1.



2017 op-ed article for the Daily Californian on my Public Records Act lawsuit:

Second op-ed article for the Daily Californian (published May 4):

“Explainer: How ‘Insider’ Access Made San Francisco Chronicle and Berkeley J-School Miss Real Story Behind Death of Cal Football’s Ted Agu,”

Complete headline links to our Ted Agu series:

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick