MINNEAPOLIS - University of Minnesota officials have confirmed that Gopher football player Gary Tinsley is dead after being discovered in his on-campus apartment Friday morning.
University of Minnesota Police Chief Greg Hestness says a roommate called campus police shortly after 7:30 a.m. after finding the senior linebacker laying on the floor of his bedroom not breathing.
First responders were on the scene at 7:43 a.m. and began CPR, putting in what Hestness called "a heroic effort." Tinsley did not respond and efforts were stopped at 8:15 a.m.
Chief Hestness told reporters there was nothing on the scene to suggest anything criminal, but that Tinsley's death would be treated as "suspicious" so nothing would be missed. Witnesses are being questioned, the apartment was processed as a crime scene and a timeline for Tinsley's final hours and death was being established.
Toxicology tests will be performed by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner to determine whether alcohol or drugs played a role.
Tinsley, who was from Jacksonville, Fla., completed his eligibility at the end of the 2011 season. He played in 44 games during his Gopher career. He was No. 2 on the team in total tackles with 87 stops last season. He compiled 198 total tackles over his career.
"It is always difficult to lose a member of the University family. Gary was close to graduating from the University's College of Education and Human Development with a major in business and marketing education," University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler wrote in a statement Friday afternoon. "In addition, he was an important part of Gopher Athletics who was engaged in public service. Our thoughts are with Gary's family and everyone on campus who knew him."
University officials announced Friday afternoon Tinsley will receive his degree posthumously.
Tinsley had used up his athletic eligibility and was considering trying to catch on with an NFL team. One scouting service had Tinsley rated 36th of 104 collegiate linebackers eligible for the draft.
"We all called him GT... He was always outgoing and always friendly. He was a great guy with lots of friends," said Kira Jackson, a student who lived in Roy Wilkins Hall with Tinsley.
His time in Minnesota wasn't all rosy; Tinsley was involved in at least two high-profile brushes with the law during his years at the university. As a sophomore he was arrested for his role in an on-campus brawl during which Tinsley was accused of swinging a board at another student.
During his junior year he led police in a chase after being spotted driving the wrong way on a one-way street while on his moped. Tinsley was captured after a foot chase and charged with DWI.
Following that incident he seemed to settle down, and coaches had commented that Tinsley had grown both as a player and a person.
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