State Colleges

Independence football coach dead at 31

Independence Community College football coach Lamar James died on Saturday while visiting family in his hometown of Mound Bayou, Miss.

Mr. James, 31, was found struggling to breathe early Saturday, rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead upon his arrival. Cause of death has yet to be determined.

Monday, the Independence campus was still reeling from the death, just three weeks after James had completed his first season as coach, leading the Pirates to a 2-7 record.

"Our biggest concerns are for his family right now," Independence athletic director Tammy Geldenhuys said. "And also for our ICC students and athletes. Lamar made an impact in the lives of a lot of people, and not just the players he coached."

Mr. James is survived by his wife, Cindy, and two young children.

There will be a funeral on Saturday in Mound Bayou at 2:30 p.m., and there will be an on-campus memorial service — Geldenhuys called it a "celebration of life" — for Mr. James at 3 p.m. on Dec. 1 in Independence.

Mr. James was an all-Mountain West safety for the University of Wyoming, playing for the Cowboys from 1999-2002.

"It's just ... shock, that's the first reaction," said Jayhawk Conference commissioner Bryce Roderick. "Lamar was someone I thought was really going to turn around the program at Independence and was somebody who I know people just really enjoyed being around.

"The entire conference will miss him, and we wish the best to his family."