A Maryland booster who last week made controversial comments about the late Terrapins offensive lineman Jordan McNair was removed from the school’s travel group for Saturday’s game at Michigan after players saw his name on the passenger list for a charter flight, multiple sources told ESPN.
Rick Jaklitsch, an attorney from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, had been set to travel with the Terrapins football team to Michigan on Friday. But when players saw his name on the passenger manifest, they became outraged, sources said, and told athletics staffers, including Cheryl Harrison, Maryland’s senior associate athletic director and chief development officer. Jaklitsch was informed he wouldn’t be traveling with other boosters and the team.
In a story published Oct. 1 by The Diamondback, Maryland’s student newspaper, Jaklitsch and other boosters voiced strong support for football coach DJ Durkin, placed on administrative leave in August while the school investigates allegations of a toxic culture in the program. Jaklitsch said Durkin being placed on leave was “ridiculous” and also addressed McNair, who fell ill during a May 29 team conditioning workout and suffered heatstroke. McNair died June 13.
“As much as we hate to say this, Jordan didn’t do what Jordan was supposed to do,” Jaklitsch told The Diamondback. “A trainer like [Maryland athletic trainer] 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.”
Jaklitsch’s comments upset many in the program, sources said, and earlier this week players informed football administrative staffers that they didn’t want Jaklitsch around any team activities. But he was still set to travel with the team to Michigan until players again intervened. Passenger manifests for Maryland’s charter flights are set in the summer.
ESPN contacted Maryland to speak with athletics director Damon Evans, but the school, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment. Evans and university president Wallace Loh last month apologized to McNair’s family after a university-commissioned report into the May 29 workouts revealed athletic trainers made mistakes in how they cared for McNair after he fell ill.
“The passing of our student-athlete Jordan McNair in June shook us all to our core,” Evans wrote in a letter to the university community. “Our student-athletes have demonstrated tremendous resiliency and strength by how they have come together over these past few months to honor Jordan and support each other through the healing process. President Loh and I have personally apologized to Jordan’s family for the mistakes made in his care. We continue to keep Jordan’s family, friends and teammates in our thoughts.”