Gary Tinsley, U of M student, football player diesby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio,
Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The University of Minnesota football team is mourning the death of senior linebacker Gary Tinsley, who was found unresponsive Friday morning in his campus apartment.
At press conference, university football coach Jerry Kill stood at a podium for several moments before he started speaking.
"It's a very, very sad day for our football program and for our young men. We lost one of ours today in Gary Tinsley, who I know is in a good place," Kill said.
The 22-year-old Tinsley had gone to bed, but his roommate found him on the floor of their apartment in Roy Wilkins Hall around 7:40 a.m. Emergency dispatchers received a call from the roommate, said University of Minnesota Police Chief Greg Hestness.
Paramedics arrived within minutes to the scene near Minneapolis' Dinkytown neighborhood and tried for about 25 minutes to revive him but were unsuccessful, Hestness said.
Tinsley played for the Gophers in 44 games, and started every game for the last two seasons. He was second on the team in total tackles with 87 last season. The 22-year-old from Jacksonville, Fla, was just weeks away from receiving his degree in business and marketing education.
The university is making arrangements to award his degree posthumously, a university spokeswoman said.
Hestness said Tinsley's death was "suspicious," but he said so far there are no indications that a crime was committed. It will take some time for toxicology results to confirm a cause of death, he said.
"We are now treating this as a suspicious death scene. I'll just say there was no immediate indication of crime. Things you'd expect: weapons, struggle, injuries... all of those things were absent," Hestness said. "Nevertheless the death of a young athlete is out of the ordinary."
Hestness said, without delving into specific detail, there was nothing out of the ordinary about the scene. The chief said as far as he knows, Tinsley was not doing anything unusual the night before. He said the football player had no prior medical conditions, nor was there evidence of drug or alcohol use.
"Really, at this point we're waiting for the medical examiner to tell us what they have found because as of this time we do not have evidence of a crime," he said. "But we're not closing the books in any respect."
Tinsley had no known health problems, authorities said. It will be some time before tests determine how Tinsley died, Hestness said.
Gophers senior quarterback MarQueis Gray said coach Kill informed the team about Tinsley's death earlier Friday morning. Gray said he and Tinsley were friends for four years. He said he just was in touch with him the previous night.
"Oh man, it's just weird how things work. Last night we were just texting each other and now he's gone. I guess that's how God works," Gray said. "He was a great friend. He was a great brother. Great for his team, and I know he was a great son to his parents."
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler issued a statement Friday saying it was difficult to lose a member of the university family. "Our thoughts are with Gary's family and everyone on campus who knew him," Kaler said.
Counselors were being made available to students on campus.
- All Things Considered, 04/06/2012, 4:51 p.m.
Rupa Shenoy is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.