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Coroner: Umeh had enlarged heart

6/13/2004 - Arizona Wildcats

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A University of Arizona football recruit
who died during a voluntary practice had an enlarged heart but heat
was not a factor in the death, authorities said Wednesday.

The Pima County Medical Examiner's Office, which conducted an
autopsy on the body of McCollins Umeh, said the official cause of
death was pending further examination of organ tissue and
toxicology results.

Umeh, an 18-year-old defensive end from Houston, collapsed
Tuesday after having passed a physical that morning and shortly
after working out.

A 911 call was made at 1:26 p.m. and Umeh was taken to the
nearby University Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at 2:24
p.m.

University athletic officials said comprehensive reviews are
under way of university policies concerning summer workouts and all
events surrounding the death.

"This is a great tragedy that has happened to my family,"
Umeh's father, Betrand "Ike" Umeh, said at a news conference
Wednesday. "It's a great loss. But I think it's the will of God."

One of Umeh's aunts, Darlene McClemmon, also spoke to reporters
along with athletic director Jim Livengood, university president
Peter Likins and coach Mike Stoops.

"M.C., that's what we called him, was special; he was a special
angel in our lives," McClemmon said.

She called Umeh kindhearted and trustworthy with an overpowering
spirit and "a million-dollar smile."

Likins, who lost a 33-year-old son in July 2002, said he never
met Umeh "but I feel like I know his family, because I know what
it's like to bury your son, and there is no greater pain.

"You have my heartfelt sympathy," Likins told Umeh's family,
"and it's going to take courage from all of you just to hold it
together, to get through some very, very difficult times, and life
is never going to be the same."

Stoops said Umeh's "spirit, his smile, his personality will be
everlasting in this program. He was special."