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March Madness: FSU coach responds to death of player's dad

By Alex Butler

March 22 (UPI) -- Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton opened up Friday regarding the death of senior Phil Cofer's father after the Seminoles' win in the NCAA tournament.

The Florida State senior found out his dad died while he was in the locker room after the Seminoles beat Vermont in the first round.

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Florida State athletic department spokesman Chuck Walsh told the Detroit Free Press and ESPN that Mike Cofer had been suffering from a long illness. Cofer, 58, was a long-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Detroit Lions.

Phil Cofer broke into tears during an open locker room period after his family called him with the news. The senior missed Thursday's game due to a right foot injury. His foot was in a boot during the game. He averaged 7.4 points per game for the Seminoles in 2018. Cofer led the Seminoles with 12.8 points per game during his 2017 campaign.

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"Well obviously this is beyond any words that you can use to express how these situations affect No. 1, the individual that's directly involved, but also with the culture we have with love and relationships that we have with our team," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton told reporters. "Obviously our players feel some of the same affect."

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"When you are going through life dealing with these types of things, you think you are prepared but you never are."

The late Cofer ranks second in Lions history with 62.5 career sacks. He is survived by wife Reba and son Michael, in addition to Phil.

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"I was truly blessed to have had the chance to coach Mike," former Lions coach Wayne Fontes said in a news release from the Lions.

"He had such tremendous character. When you heard people talking about a player who always gave 100 percent, it was Mike. He epitomized that type of effort and gave it every time he took the field. Mike was very well-liked and respected by his teammates and certainly by me and our coaches. My prayers and love go out to Mike's family."

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The No. 4 Seminoles face No. 12 Murray State in the second round at 6:10 p.m. Saturday at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.

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