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(Reuters) - A specialist will examine the brain of a deceased Ohio State football player, an Ohio coroner said on Monday, after the athlete died in an apparent suicide that his family said could be linked to sports-related concussions.
Franklin County Coroner Anahi Ortiz said the brain of Kosta Karageorge, 22, will be examined by a neuropathologist to determine if there are any abnormalities or "signs of traumatic brain injury."
Karageorge, a non-scholarship reserve player in his first year on the team after three years as a wrestler at Ohio State, was found dead on Sunday in Columbus from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The defensive lineman was reported missing on Nov. 26.
His mother, Susan, told police that her son had suffered several concussions and had been very confused at times. His sister Sophia told local media that her brother had suffered a concussion a month ago.
Head football coach Urban Meyer defended the team's medical staff on Monday.
"I can say this, this is the best group of medical people I've ever been around, the way they handle their business and the attention to detail," Meyer told reporters. Meyer, 50, has been a head college football coach for 13 years.
A native of Worthington, Ohio, Karageorge played one game this year for the Buckeyes, one of the country's most successful and popular college teams. The team finished 11-1 in the regular season and will play in the Big Ten Conference championship game on Saturday.
Karageorge's death has raised questions on whether physicians and athletic trainers properly treated the player and if they had noticed any lingering effects of head trauma.
The sport is grappling with how to prevent head trauma during play and its long-term effects on players.
A number of retired professional football players have committed suicide after suffering from the cognitive effects of concussions.
Ortiz said the results of the examination could take weeks.
Neither the National Collegiate Athletic Association nor the Big Ten Conference immediately responded to messages seeking comment.
The Big Ten said in a statement on Monday that it "sends its thoughts" to Karageorge's family.
Reporting by Eric Kelsey in Los Angeles; Editing by Mary Milliken, Mohammad Zargham and Eric Beech