A day after the tragic death of starting center Jason Bitsko, Kent State players have already come up with a way to honor their fallen teammate.
Head coach Paul Haynes said Thursday that Bitsko’s teammates will wear his No. 54 on the side of their helmets through the season.
“Jason Bitsko was not just a Golden Flash, he was a son, he was a brother, he was a mentor, he was a friend,” Haynes said.
After not showing up for practice Wednesday morning, Bitsko, a redshirt junior from Huber Heights, Ohio, was “found unresponsive in his bedroom” by his roommate around 9 a.m. Police believe the cause of death to be “an undetermined medical issue.” He was 21 years old.
"Kent State University and the entire Kent community mourns his passing," Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen said in a statement Wednesday. "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."
The program recently honored Bitsko with an award for “exemplifying hard work and dedication beyond the call of duty.”
Additionally, memorials have been popping up around campus to honor Bitsko.
Bitsko’s family wants to make sure that the loss of their son can have a positive impact on another member of the Golden Flashes. According to August Fagerstrom of Ohio.com, Bitsko’s father “wanted to make sure Jason’s scholarship went to a walk-on.”
Haynes and his wife visited Bitsko's family at the hospital yesterday. The father wanted to make sure Jason's scholarship went to a walk-on.— August Fagerstrom (@AugustF_ABJ) August 21, 2014
Kent State opens its season at home against Ohio University on August 30.
For more Kent State news, visit KentStateReport.com.
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