Gary Tinsley, a University of Minnesota senior and former Gophers linebacker, was found dead early Friday morning in Roy Wilkins Hall.
Speaking on behalf of the football team at a press conference Friday afternoon, Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray called it “a sad day for Gopher nation.”
“You enter a brotherhood and you’ll always be a brother of the U of M once you put on that … maroon and gold,” Gray said. “Last night we were texting each other, and now he’s gone.”
Minnesota linebacker Gary Tinsley in action in a game against Wisconsin at TCF Bank Stadium on November 12, 2011.
A roommate found Tinsley, 22, unresponsive in his room. University police received a call at about 7:40 a.m. Friday. University police Chief Greg Hestness said there were no immediate signs of foul play, but the police are treating it as a suspicious death.
Hestness said Tinsley had no known prior medical conditions and there was no evidence of drug and alcohol use. Once on the scene, responders tried performing CPR for about half an hour.
A four-year member of the Gophers football team, Tinsley was a force on defense. He started every game in his past two seasons at middle linebacker and led the team in tackles his junior season with 90. In his final season with the Gophers this past fall, he finished second on the team in tackles with 87 and recorded nine tackles-for-loss and four sacks.
In a statement, University President Eric Kaler said, "It is always difficult to lose a member of the University family." He noted how close Tinsley was to graduating and his contributions to Gophers athletics.
"Our thoughts are with Gary's family and everyone on campus who knew him," Kaler said.
A Jacksonville, Fla., native, Tinsley was set to graduate in May with a business and marketing education degree. A spokesman for the College of Education and Human Development said Tinsley will be awarded his degree posthumously.
Kiara Jackson, a University student and friend of Tinsley, said through tears that Tinsley “was just a good guy.”
“He was about to graduate,” Jackson said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Athletics director Joel Maturi flew in from the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla. after hearing of Tinsley’s death.
“Anyone who knew Gary, it’s tough,” Maturi said with tears in his eyes. "Obviously I don’t know all of the 750 athletes as well as I’d like. Gary is one that I knew. It was great to see his growth.”
-Colette Bell and Andrew Krammer contributed to this report.