BY SPNW Staff 09:33PM 01/16/2018

Cougars’ QB Tyler Hilinski dies from suicide

Tyler Hilinski, likely the starting QB for Washington State in the fall, was found dead in his apartment by Pullman police, apparently by a self-inflicted gunshot.

Tyler Hilinski made his first career start in the Holiday Bowl last month. / Washington State athletics

Tyler Hilinski, Washington State University’s backup quarterback, was found dead in his Pullman apartment Tuesday. A statement from Pullman police said he died apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A rifle and a suicide note were found next to his body.

The 21-year-old redshirt sophomore from Upland High School in Claremont, CA., was absent from football practice. Police were summoned about 4:30 p.m. to the apartment complex to check on him. No further details were provided.

The athletic department released a statement from coach Mike Leach:

 “We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing. He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it. The entire WSU community mourns as thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Also responding was interim athletics director John Johnson:

 “The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinksi is devastating to all. Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.”

The school statement said the team was brought together and informed. They were met by campus and department counseling and psychological services, including athletics’ on-staff clinical psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor.

Hilinski, 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds, had his first career start Dec. 28 in the Holiday Bowl, replacing Luke Falk, the Pac-12 Conference career passing leader who sat out with a left wrist injury. In the 42-17 loss to 18th-ranked Michigan State, Hilinski completed 39 of 50 passes for 272 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

He was considered the leading candidate to start in the fall.

In eight appearances last season, Hilinski completed 130 of 179 passes for 1,176 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He led a comeback victory against Boise State by going 24 of 33 for 240 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in triple overtime. Against Arizona, he was 45 for 61 and 509 yards while passing for two TDs and rushing for two more.

Coming out of high school, ranked him the No. 13  QB in the West and ninth in California.


  • jafabian

    Such sad news to hear. Tyler would have been the starting QB entering the season. Words escape me because I don’t believe anything like this has ever happened in Washington sports history. Prayers and condolences to him and his family at this time.

    • art thiel

      Regardless of sports, the despair and loneliness many college students feel is a big part of this story.

  • SalishSea13

    It is such a sad thing. A kid puts so much pressure on himself and then seeks out a solution you cannot come back from.
    I hope people understand that sports is entertainment. That these kids in college are doing there best. Take your ire out on the money making Coach ..That is his Job. Let the kids play good or badly it is just a game. God bless and I hope people put College sports in perspective. As young people doing their best to entertain our thirst for competitive sport. Since we are too old, lazy and out of shape to do it ourselves.

    • art thiel

      We don’t know yet what role sports played in this tragedy, except to bring greater attention to youth suicide.

      And it’s about 120 years late to request perspective on big-time college sports.

      • SalishSea13

        When you have fat and lazy adults swearing at college field goal kickers and threatening to kill them …It has gone to far. Or is that just a Trump rally?

        • Warchild_70

          PLEASE keep the political comments out of the conversation. This is an epidemic and as a Chaplain for the VFW I have heard of so many of the returning troop that have elected to commit this way out which is both selfish and costly to the ones left behind and the possible loss of ones eternity in paradise. We as parents and teachers must be aware of the signs AND ACT quickly. May our Lord have mercy on this young man’s soul. May Adonia comfort the ones left to morn and grieve.

          • SalishSea13

            You took it at political and then expanded. By no way did I bring the soldiers into this. That is a huge separate issue. That needs a lot of empathy from the hardcore military and political hawks. Most of society believes the fact PTSD is real and drug abuse with our soldiers can cause a lot problems. This story is about a College student and the two things that is shared with your experience is suicide.
            I wonder why you use the name WarChild when you are a chaplain as you say. Also why are you triggered by a joke between others with a history? Now the fact we were talking about adults putting pressure on these young kids and calling them names like a Trump rally is a analogy on how badly adults can act in society even with influence. Yet others accept it. Thus turning a ugly circle that affects the young by the slurs they take. But it is normal …as Art wrote.

          • Warchild_70

            Suicide is a mental issue and any time anyone is showing the signs of despair should seek help. There are ways to overcome and move on only trained professionals know how to treat it to include the clergy. Now about my moniker, “Warchild” I was born three weeks after the Korean War began of which my biological father may have been a veteran my adoptive Father served in WWII, I served in Vietnam two tours ergo I’m a war baby, ergo sum a “Warchild”. I am very concerned with the amount of good people taking their own lives when it can be avoided. Remember your life belongs to YHWH (GOD) and only He can take it away. I bid you peace unto your house.

          • SalishSea13

            In the USA we are all war babies. Since our military is always in conflict around the world. Now I am glad your religion beliefs give you solace. Mine have heavy beliefs in forgiveness. Thus I try to give families more solace then pain … when losing someone. I use that more then the pressure of the stick. At times people take their lives usually they don’t see the God of forgiveness and their pain is already so great. Mental depression and pain can be greater then the body can have.