The halls of Asbury University were shaken Saturday when Jeff McMillan, 24, experienced difficulty breathing during a intramural rugby game, collapsed on the field and died.
“It’s a very tender time for the Asbury community,” Asbury University President Sandra C. Gray said. “But what we’ve seen after this is a coming together of the students and those around the university, which we really appreciate.”
McMillan, a senior sports-management major from Florence, was expected to graduate in December.
He was honored Monday at the 10 a.m. chapel service, where more than 1,500 gathered in his honor, according to Asbury’s website.
“There couldn’t be a more perfect way to honor Jeff,” McMillan’s mother, Jackie, said at the service. “Jeff’s father and I are so grateful for the outpouring of love and friendship to Jeff that has blessed and enriched his life. Everyone at Asbury has been wonderful to honor him and take care of anything we need. I’m overwhelmed by the comments about what Jeff meant to people at Asbury, and I know how much Asbury meant to Jeff. He felt so blessed to be here.”
The university will also be planting a crab-apple tree near the Luce Physical Activities Center in the near future for McMillan.
“We will be having a dedication in his memory,” Gray said. “We’ll let the students know via our website as soon as we have a date, as well.”
Visitation was Wednesday at Christ’s Chapel Church, 3819 Turfway Road, Erlanger, with services at noon at the church.
He was buried at Burlington Cemetery in Burlington.
The cause of McMillan’s death remains undetermined but is highly suspected to be cardiac-related in origin, Jessamine County Coroner Michael Hughes said.
McMillan was transported Saturday to the Saint Joseph-Jessamine RJ Corman Ambulatory Care Center in Nicholasville, where he was pronounced dead by Hughes.
“It was obviously a sudden death, and we performed an autopsy on him, but the results are inconclusive as of now,” Hughes said. “Generally, a cardiac reason is what we suspect, but the results are not in.”
Hughes said that McMillan seemed to be in good shape and healthy at the time of his death.
“We all hear about the case of the athlete that drops dead on the basketball court or football field or in this case the rugby field,” Hughes said. “So it could be any reason at this time.”
McMillan was transported to Frankfort for an autopsy. A blood-work test and other results help better determine the cause of death, but that may take as long as six to eight weeks, Hughes said.
Memorial contributions can be sent to the family c/o P.O.Box 130, Williamstown, KY, 41097.