Mississippi State's website has confirmed the terribly tragic news: Nick Bell, the program's 20-year-old defensive end, has died following a battle with skin cancer. The school's athletic department has announced that it plans to establish a memorial fund in Bell's honor.
Mississippi State personnel have issued statements in the wake of Bell's passing. From the program's head coach, Dan Mullen:
“This is a tragedy for Nick’s family, our football program, our community and everyone who had the privilege to meet and be around Nick Bell. Nick was a son and a brother to our football family and I know he will continue to look over us from heaven. Nick lived his life like a champion and will always be remembered in our hearts that way. During this impossible time, we pray for Nick’s family and all those he has touched.”
And from school president Dr. Mark Keenum:
“Rhonda joins with me and Bulldogs everywhere in expressing our sympathies to Nick Bell's family, teammates, and friends during this difficult time. Nick was an outstanding young man, who proudly represented our university with character and enthusiasm in everything he did. He was an exemplary student athlete, always giving the maximum effort on the football field and in the classroom. Nick left us too soon, and we mourn his passing, but we also celebrate the impact he made and fondly recount the many lives he touched in our Bulldog family.”
Our Mississippi State blog, For Whom The Cowbell Tolls, is mourning Bell's death. This story, of course, transcends football and the sports world at large, and our thoughts are with Bell's friends and family, as well as the Mississippi State program.