By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO

Less than two weeks before kickoff to a season that almost seems trivial, the Maryland football team pledged to keep the memory of teammate Jordan McNair alive while his father publicly pledged support for University President Dr. Wallace Loh.

Terps players revealed the plans to honor their former teammate inside the refurbished Cole Field House August 20.  McNair suffered a heat stroke during a conditioning drill at practice May 29.  For the first time since the ESPN story of how a “toxic” climate surrounding the football program may have contributed to McNair’s death broke, the team announced its commitment to dedicating this season to him and honoring his legacy.

A photo of some of last year’s University of Maryland football team featured on the Terps’ Instagram. (Courtesy Photo)

Offensive linemen Ellis McKinney and Johnny Jordan said the team decided they would wear #79 decals on the back of their helmets for the entire 2018 season to honor McNair.  There will be a moment of silence before the Texas and Temple games and no Maryland player will wear McNair’s jersey number 79 for the next four years, during what would’ve been the length of his college playing career.

McNair’s locker at Gossett Team House will be encased in glass and moved when the team officially relocates into Cole Field House. McNair will also be honored on what would have been his senior day in 2021.  There will be one scholarship in McNair’s name given to a Maryland student-athlete each year as well.

“We plan to have his legacy live on forever,” McKinney said in his statement. “We plan to never forget.  He fought until his very last breath for his teammates and now we would like to honor him.”

“We as a team will continue to carry on his legacy through this season and far beyond,” Jordan said in his prepared remarks.

Three days after appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America and CNN’s New Day calling for head coach D.J Durkin to be fired, Martin McNair authored a supportive letter that was released to select media outlets through the family attorneys calling it a “shame” if Dr. Loh was fired.

In a social media post former CSN Washington sports anchor Chick Hernandez reported that after the August 17 board of regents meeting several people were pushing for the termination of Durkin, Loh, and athletic director Damon Evans within the next two weeks. The thinking is that Hall of Fame former basketball coach Gary Williams would serve as interim AD. That evening the family also reportedly wouldn’t agree to a settlement until Durkin was fired.

“We have heard rumblings that Dr. Loh is under fire at the University because of his statements accepting responsibility, on behalf of the University, for Jordan’s death,” Martin McNair said in a statement released to USA TODAY by Hassan Murphy of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy. “It would be a complete shame if, after such a display of decency and humanity, Dr. Loh were to be let go.”

The Board of Regents has now assumed control of the independent investigation into Jordan McNair’s death that was commissioned by Loh and Evans.  Those results won’t to be released until September 15 but, there is no timetable for the Regents’ findings to be made public.

“Any notion that the Board of Regents can or should walk back from the acceptance of responsibility, or influence the investigations to water down their findings, would be self-defeating and would undermine the very high bar that Dr. Loh has set for the University and its programs going forward,” McNair reportedly continued in his public statement. “The tragedy of our son’s death cannot and should not be a political football for competing factions or agendas or to settle prior scores.”