Former CFCC basketball player Tyrek Coger dies suddenly

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Tyrek Coger. Photo courtesy- Sea Devil Athletics.
Tyrek Coger. Photo courtesy- Sea Devil Athletics.

Tyrek Coger, an Oklahoma State University basketball player who recently transferred from Cape Fear Community College, died suddenly Thursday evening.

According to a statement from the school in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Coger collapsed following a team workout yesterday afternoon and was taken to Stillwater Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m Central Daylight Time. He was 21 years old.

Coger, who was a redshirt sophomore at CFCC last season, had just arrived on campus at Oklahoma State on July 5.

“Tyrek was excited to be at Oklahoma State and had such passion for the game and was looking forward to being an OSU Cowboy,” men’s basketball head coach Brad Underwood said in the statement. “Losing a member of the team is like losing a member of the family. But we know our loss pales in comparison to the pain his family is going through.”

In a press conference held Friday morning in Stillwater, Oklahoma State Communications Director Gary Shutt said it was a “tragic, painful day for Oklahoma State University and the Cowboy basketball family” and extended condolences to Coger’s family.

“We’re still in shock over what happened,” Shutt said.

According to Shutt, NCAA rules allow basketball teams to practice for eight hours per week during this time of the summer. No more than two of those eight hours can be on-court practice, with the majority of it for strength and conditioning workouts. The Cowboys were doing strength and conditioning drills under the watch of assistant coaches Thursday, including running the stairs at the football stadium, prior to the incident.

Shutt said Coger did not seem to have problems during the workout, but at the end of the drill, he sat down at the top of the stairs.

“Some individuals from the basketball staff and team went up and checked on him, saw there were some issues, [and] 911 was called,” Shutt said.

The Stillwater Fire Department was notified at 5:04 p.m. Central Time, according to Shutt, and was on scene by 5:08 p.m. Emergency medical services arrived at 5:11 p.m. Coger arrived at the hospital at 5:48 p.m. and was pronounced dead 35 minutes later.

Due to federal health privacy laws, Shutt could not provide details on Coger’s medical history, but emphasized that he passed the program’s “thorough series of tests” required to be cleared for physical activity.

Oklahoma State University officials did not speculate on what the cause of death could be. A final autopsy report will be released after the police investigation is over, which Shutt said is “always required in an unexpected death.” It is unknown when that will be complete.

The university’s athletic director, Mike Holder, said the team’s activities were not out of step with regular practices, though many had questions about the hot weather in the area yesterday.

“I’ve got a lot of questions about this. How could it happen to us on our campus?” Holder said, saying coaching procedures and protocols will be evaluated. “I don’t have any answers today … We’ll take this tragedy and look at it and try to figure out if there was something that could’ve been done to prevent it, and if there’s changes that need to be made, we’ll make those.”

Though Coger had only been a member of the team for 17 days, Underwood was emotional during the press conference.

“There’s no worse feeling than getting a call about one of your players,” said Underwood, who was in Las Vegas doing player evaluations at the time. “This is my 30th year as a coach, and I’ve never ever had to do this.”

Underwood said recruiting Coger was a process, but the Raleigh native fell in love with the Stillwater campus and program.

“That young man was fired up to be a Cowboy,” Underwood said. “He said that so often on his visit, and it made it just right, and it felt great.”

The coach said Coger had an impact on his peers even in his short time at Oklahoma State.

“He was loved by his teammates. He was a jokester. He had a great way with people,” Underwood said. “He was a sponge when it comes to wanting to be a very good ball player and a very good teammate.”

The 6-foot, 9-inch 240 pound forward played one season at CFCC, averaging 12.2 points and seven rebounds per game. He scored in the double digits in 22 games, helping the Sea Devils to a 24 – 8 record. Their 2015 – 2016 season ended in March when they fell one game short of repeating as Region 10 Champions in the National Junior College Athletic Association.

Rated as the No. 21 junior college prospect in the country by 247Sports.com, Coger originally committed to Ole Miss last year. Due to a Southeastern Conference junior college transfer rules, which state a player must attend a school full time for three straight semesters, he decided to attend OK State instead. Prior to CFCC, Coger played one season at Eastern Florida State.

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