Posted by Philip Poole on 2009-09-09

Samford University student Jim Griffin was found dead Tuesday morning (Sept. 8) in his room in Samford's Beeson Woods residential village. Griffin, 23, was a senior sociology major from Chicago, Ill., and a member of the men's basketball team.

A memorial service is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 10) in Samford's Reid Chapel.

Visitation for Griffin will be held Sunday (Sept. 13) from 3-9 p.m. at St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church in his hometown of Chicago. Funeral mass will be at 10 a.m. Monday at the church Ridout's Valley Chapel in downtown Homewood (Ala.) is handling& local arrangements.

Although details have not been released by the Jefferson County coroner’s office, Griffin apparently died in his sleep. A forward on the basketball team, he had participated in a pick-up game and some weight training on Monday night before returning to his residence hall

"The Samford community is profoundly saddened by the death of Jim Griffin," said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. “He was a popular student on campus in addition to being a member of the men's basketball team. It never is easy when any life is lost, but it is more difficult to lose one of such great promise.”

Westmoreland announced Griffin's death to students assembled for a regularly-scheduled convocation service and then in a campus-wide email to students and employees. He said the university’s counseling center and university ministries staffs were being made available to assist students with grief counseling. Athletics department staff members met throughout the day with student-athletes.

R. Phil Kimrey, Samford’s vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, talked to Griffin’s father and expressed university’s sympathy for the family.  Griffin's family was scheduled to arrive in Birmingham on Wednesday.

“This is a tremendous loss for our university and our team,” said men’s head coach Jimmy Tillette. “Our objective now is to help Jim’s family and his teammates and friends deal with the situation.”

Griffin played in all 30 games during 2008-09, his junior season. He was a redshirt player during this first year at Samford and was back-up center during his 2006-07 freshman season. He played prep basketball at suburban Marist High School in Chicago.

Samford’s Tuesday night volleyball match at Troy University was postponed, according to Athletics Director Bob Roller. Decisions on other athletics events will be announced later this week, Roller said. The volleyball team will travel to a weekend tournament in Ohio, as planned. A Thursday night soccer match against cross-town rival UAB also has been postponed to a later date. Saturday’s football game against Jacksonville University will go on, as scheduled, as will the first-ever Bulldog Bash, scheduled for Friday night with special guest speaker Vince Dooley.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.