Booster Booted From Plane

October 8, 2018

A football booster for the University of Maryland was removed from the travel group to the school's game at Michigan because of controversial comments about the death of Terrapins player Jordan McNair.

According to the Washington Post, Rick Jaklitsch, an attorney from Upper Marlboro, Md., had expressed support for DJ Durkin, who is on administrative leave from his job as football coach. Jaklitsch also criticized McNair, who suffered exertional heatstroke at a team workout on May 29, and died on June 13.

“As much as we hate to say this, Jordan didn’t do what Jordan was supposed to do,” he said. “A trainer like Wes Robinson thinks a kid’s properly hydrated and runs a drill set up for kids that are properly hydrated, and when the kid didn’t drink the gallon he knew he had to drink, that’s going to send the wrong signal to the person running the drill.”

ESPN reported that some players became upset when they saw Jaklitsch’s name on the travel list and complained to athletic department officials who then told him he wouldn’t be on the flight. On Sunday, Jaklitsch told the Washington Post that he didn't want to cause any pain to McNair's teammates.

“I understand how much these kids have been through,” he said. “They lose one of their best friends and a great kid—Jordan. It’s amazing what the coaches have been through. We need to all support each other, and it should be ‘Go Terps’ all the time.”

Hassan Murphy, an attorney representing McNair’s parents, said he was offended by  Jaklitsch's remarks. 

“Jordan died on a football field doing what he loved most, what his coaches asked of him and in a setting he trusted,” Murphy said. “And now the University of Maryland and its surrogates are blaming him for his down death. We never imagined they would act so despicably toward Jordan’s family and his teammates who are suffering so much.”

Jaklitsch said that there were multiple causes for McNair's death, and no one individual was to blame. In August, he and 20 other boosters sent a letter to the board supporting Durkin, whom he described as “a great coach who cares so much about his players."

“Durkin was not to blame for this,” he said. “Wes Robinson was not to blame for this. Jordan was certainly not to blame for this. None of the players, none of the coaches should be blamed for this. It’s a tragedy. And we should stay behind our players, stay behind our coaches, stay behind the Maryland program.”

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