Somewhere — perhaps on a computer in College Park — is surveillance footage of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair’s final practice.
But the university isn’t sharing it. Media outlets haven’t been allowed to see it. Neither has the law firm that’s been representing McNair’s family since the 19-year-old offensive lineman died of heatstroke following an outdoor practice in College Park.
Murphy, Falcon & Murphy received a letter from the university’s Office of General Counsel this week denying the firm’s request under the Maryland Public Information Act for “any and all video recordings” from surveillance cameras near the area where football practice was held on May 29, the day McNair fell ill.
Associate General Counsel Laura Anderson Wright wrote in a letter that the university denied the request “pending the completion of an investigation being conducted by the Office of the Attorney General,” she wrote.
Once it is cleared by the attorney general’s office, a university spokeswoman said, the school plans to release the video to McNair’s family.
The attorney general’s office is representing the state flagship and the university system on all legal claims related to McNair’s death. A spokesperson for the office said they won’t confirm or deny the existence of any investigations or commenting on ongoing litigation.
Attorney Billy Murphy called the decision “bogus,” and questioned whether the video was withheld because it contradicts the university’s original version of events.
“There’s no way giving us a copy of that tape will change what’s on it or impede their investigation,” he said. “It must hurt them or they would’ve released it to the public long ago.”
The university also denied The Baltimore Sun’s request for the footage.
One person who has seen the tapes is Dr. Rod Walters, the independent sports medicine consultant hired to evaluate the university’s procedures related to McNair’s death.
Walters issued a report Sept. 21 that found university athletics staff did not follow proper protocols in treating McNair for heatstroke.
During the news conference where he presented his findings, Walters said he used surveillance footage to help piece together a timeline.
He said he couldn’t see the entire practice, and the videos didn’t enable him to analyze McNair’s condition on the field.
“You couldn’t make out a lot of detail,” he said.
But the tapes did help Walters craft the most complete timeline to date of what happened during McNair’s last practice. His report revealed that about 30 minutes passed between the onset of McNair’s symptoms and when he was removed from the field. Another half-hour then passed before university officials first called 911.
Murphy said his firm doesn’t want to rely on Walters’ take-aways.
“We have the right to see it ourselves,” he said.
More importantly, said Malcolm Ruff, a Murphy, Falcon & Murphy associate, McNair’s parents have the right to see what happened to their son.
Athletic Director Damon Evans said at a recent Student Government Association meeting that there was no official athletic department video available.
“We do video all football practices,” he said. “We do not video conditioning practices, so there is no athletic video of the conditioning drills” on May 29.
Latest Sun Investigates
Evans told the SGA that the protocol may change moving forward.