KENT, Ohio — A Kent State University student-athlete died unexpectedly from what was believed to be an undetermined medical issue, the university said Wednesday.
Golden Flashes coaches and players became concerned when Jason Bitsko, 21, didn’t show up for practice Wednesday morning shortly before 9 a.m.
Officials say a roommate found Jason unresponsive lying in his bed.
“He had passed away overnight,” said Eric Mansfield, KSU spokesperson. ”It was a complete shock that no one saw coming.”
Bitsko was a marketing major about to begin his fourth year on the football team and was the returning starting center for the upcoming season.
Members of the football team were told of Bitsko’s passing during the end of the morning practice, and reportedly broke down in tears. All remaining football activities on Wednesday were canceled.
Brimfield Township police responded to the apartment and found no evidence of foul play or any illegal activities.
Jason was at practice the day before and also attended an ice bucket challenge with his teammates in preparation for their home opener against Ohio University on Aug. 30.
“Kent State University and the entire Kent community mourn his passing,” said Joel Nielsen, Kent State’s director of athletics. “We are heartbroken by the news of Jason’s death. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, teammates and everyone whose lives he touched.”
“Our players, coaches and everyone involved with our team are hurting because he was family,” said Kent State head football coach Paul Haynes. “As a team, we will come together and get through this one day at a time.”
Kent students were also stunned and saddened by the news.
But some say they found hope in Jason’s last tweet.
He tweeted, “There are 86,400 seconds in a day make sure you use one of those to thank God for everything you have.” #stayfocused.
There are 86,400 seconds in a day. Make sure you use one of those to thank god for everything you have #stayfocused
— Baby Elephant (@isthatbitsko) August 14, 2014
The university was providing counseling services and support to all student-athletes and staff members within university athletics.
Counseling is always available by contacting Psychological Services at the DeWeese Health Center at 330-672-2487.
Counseling and support are also available through the Counseling and Human Development Center in White Hall and the Psychological Clinic in Kent Hall.
The hashtag #KSUJason54 was established for those paying tribute via social media.
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