University of Maine football player Darius Minor died of a heart condition, according to the state medical examiner’s office.

Minor, an 18-year-old from Locust Grove, Virginia, collapsed and died during a supervised workout at Alfond Stadium on July 24.

The cause of death was a heart condition called “acute aortic dissection with cardiac tamponade” with “hypertensive cardiovascular disease” as a contributing factor, said Mark Belserene of the medical examiner’s office.

Belserene added, “The manner (of death) is natural.”

No further information was available.

Minor is believed to be the first player in the 126-year history of the UMaine football program to die during a workout on campus.


In a statement released Tuesday evening, UMaine Coach Joe Harasymiak said, “Darius will always be with us. We take inspiration from his strength and courage, his aspirations and character. Darius has touched the lives of so many, including countless numbers in the Black Bear athletics community. Our thoughts will continue to be with his family and friends.”

The Black Bears will hold a moment of silence for Minor before their opener against New Hampshire on Aug. 30.

Aortic dissection, according to the Mayo Clinic’s web site, is a rare condition “in which the inner layer of the aorta, the large blood vessel branching off the heart, tears. Blood surges through the tear, causing the inner and middle layers of the aorta to separate. If the blood-filled channel ruptures through the outside aortic wall, aortic dissection is often fatal. Cardiac tamponade is compression of the heart caused by the collection of fluid in the sac surrounding the heart.”

The condition is most frequent in men in their 60s and 70s, according to clinic’s web site.

Minor, like other incoming players, needed to pass two physicals in order to participate in football activities at UMaine.

“I know to work out here, not only do we get a physical at home, but he has to pass a physical at Maine,” Harasymiak said at a news conference the day after Minor’s death. “And he did that.”


Minor died during a light workout in which the players were dressed in shorts and T-shirts. Strength coach Jon Lynch was leading a group of 17 freshmen through the workout, which included pushing a weighted sled. After a five-minute warm-up and a short water break, the group went through one set of the drill.

During another four-minute water break, Minor tapped Lynch on the shoulder and, according to Harasymiak, said he felt like he was going to pass out.

Seconds later, Minor collapsed. Lynch and some players carried Minor toward the field house to get him off the stadium’s hot artificial turf. Lynch also contacted the training staff, which raced to meet them, and placed a 911 call.

Harasymiak said the training staff was “on scene at Darius’ side almost immediately.” But efforts to resuscitate Minor failed.

Minor, who was 6 feet and 170 pounds, was in his third week of classes in Orono and participating in workouts in a “bridge” program for freshmen. It was the first time UMaine has used the program. Minor was a political science major and had received a full scholarship.

Harasymiak said the team will not use Minor’s No. 39 jersey for the next four years. In the team photo taken at the team’s media day, Maine players wore their blue home jerseys. Two players held up the white No. 39 jersey in the photo.


Minor was a very popular and successful student-athlete at Orange County High School in Virginia, according to school officials.

“He was just a great kid in the hallways,” said Orange County Principal Kelly Guempel.

Minor played both football and soccer, where he was the team’s leading scorer as a senior.

In football, he missed his junior season after he suffered a knee injury. He returned as a senior to catch 57 passes for 763 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was also the team’s kicker.

Because of his knee injury, Minor wasn’t heavily recruited to play football. But Maine aggressively went after him.

After accepting Maine’s scholarship offer, he told the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Virginia, that “they come from a similar background as me and they feel like they have something to prove.”


Harasymiak said Minor had already fit in well with the Black Bears and not only on the field.

“He had one of the best smiles in that freshman class,” said Harasymiak. “When you got him to smile, got him to open up, you could truly see who he was. Just a very hard worker who wanted to do his best.”

Following his death, Minor’s aunt, Dana Wines, set up a GoFundMe page to help his family pay for funeral costs. Nearly $32,000 was raised, with 379 people donating, after an initial goal of $15,000. The largest pledge ($10,000) came from Phillip H. Morse, a 1964 UMaine graduate who played baseball and has been a longtime benefactor to the school. He is currently a vice chairman of the Boston Red Sox.

Harasymiak and defensive backs coach Matt Birkett – who would have coached Minor – attended the funeral, which was on the same day that the Black Bears opened training camp.

CLARIFICATION: This file was updated at 10:10 a.m. on Aug. 15 to clearly identify passages taken directly from the Mayo Clinic’s web site.

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