Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich among those tapped to investigate University of Maryland football culture

The University System of Maryland’s governing board announced Friday that it has selected former Gov. Bob Ehrlich and four others to join a commission tasked with investigating the football culture at the state’s flagship.

After the death of 19-year-old University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair, media reports emerged that characterized the school’s football culture as “toxic” and ruled by fear and intimidation.

University president Wallace Loh announced the creation of a group to investigate those claims. The university named retired U.S. District Court judges Ben Legg and Alex Williams to the commission, along with former prosecutor Charlie Scheeler. He was the lead counsel during the investigation of steroid use in Major League Baseball and monitored Penn State's compliance under its Athletics Integrity Agreement with the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference.

The university also hired a sports medicine consulting group to review university officials’ actions related to McNair’s June heatstroke death.

The university system’s Board of Regents voted last week to take control of both investigations.

In addition to Ehrlich, the governing body added four others to the commission:

  • Tom McMillen, a former U.S. congressman and Maryland basketball star. He is also a former member of the Board of Regents.
  • Doug Williams, the Washington Redskins senior vice president of player personnel. He is a former head football coach at Morehouse College and Grambling State University.
  • Dr. Frederick M. Azar, director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship program in the University of Tennessee‐Campbell Clinic Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering.
  • Bonnie Bernstein, a longtime sports journalist and former All-American gymnast.

Board chair Jim T. Brady said the commission will be expected to “do everything necessary to uncover the facts and share them with the Board of Regents, the university, and ultimately with the people of Maryland.”

“The allegations that have surfaced about the University of Maryland, College Park’s football program are extremely serious and, if true, completely unacceptable,” Brady said in a statement.

ESPN’s damning reporting on the football team culture was published about two months after McNair’s death.

McNair, a former McDonogh School standout, collapsed during a team workout May 29. He died of heatstroke about two weeks later.

Loh has said the university takes “legal and moral responsibility” for mistakes in treating him. The university’s athletic training staff did not take McNair’s temperature and did not use a cold-water immersion treatment, a technique that researchers say has a 100 percent success rate for those suffering heatstroke when done correctly.

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