Former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hlinski's parents say her son had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) at the time of his death.
Hlinski, the quarterback of the Cougars, Suicide committed in a Pullman, Washington, apartment on January 16. On Tuesday morning, more than five months later, Mark and Kym Hlinski told NBC today show that an autopsy from the Mayo Clinic revealed the degenerative disease of the brain, which in recent years was associated with playing football.
"It was a shock to get these results and find out he had it," said Kym Hlinski today, "And to realize that the sport he loved could have contributed to this diagnosis."
"The coroner said he has the brain of a 65-year-old," added her husband Mark. "He was the sweetest, most open-minded, giving child, that was hard to hear."
Hlinski was scheduled as Washington State's starting quarterback this fall. The police found his body during a welfare test after missing the training.
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The diagnosis of Hiliński's CTE is the latest case in which evidence of the disease was found in the brain of a former footballer. A 2017 Mayo Clinic study found that 110 out of 111 former NFL players whose brains were donated for research had evidence of the disease, which can only be confirmed by autopsy.
"The findings suggest that CTE may be linked to previous participation in football, and that high levels of play can be associated with significant disease burden," said the authors of the 2017 study, by researchers at Boston University and the VA Boston Health System.
According to Chris Nowinski of the Concussion Legacy FoundationHlinski is the second active college football player whose brain showed evidence of CTE at the time of his death. Researchers also found early stages of the disease in the brain of footballer Owen Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania, who killed himself in 2010.
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ Tom_Schad,