ESPN to air College GameDay feature on tragic bond between Ivan Maisel, family of ex-Washington State QB Tyler Hilinski

Senior writer Ivan Maisel talks with Tyler Hilinski’s father, Mark, during a visit to the Hilinski family home in Irvine, Calif. (ESPN / Courtesy)
Like the family of former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski, ESPN senior writer Ivan Maisel also lost a son to suicide. (ESPN / Courtesy)
Ivan Maisel has a conversation with Kym Hilinski during a recent visit to Irvine, Calif. (ESPN / Courtesy)
An ESPN College GameDay feature will highlight the tragic bond between senior writer Ivan Maisel and the parents of former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski. (ESPN / Courtesy)

As part of its weekly “College GameDay” program Saturday morning, ESPN will air a 10-minute feature story highlighting the tragic bond shared between senior ESPN writer Ivan Maisel and the parents of former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski.

The emotionally charged segment will air during the first two hours of Saturday’s show, which runs from 6-9 a.m. PDT on ESPN’s primary network. It can also be viewed on the web at

A trailer of the video can be found below.

Maisel will join the “College GameDay” crew in College Station, Texas, to discuss the video and the relationship he’s struck with the Hilinski family, who lost their middle son Tyler to suicide in January. Tyler Hilinski was supposed to start at quarterback for the Cougars this season and would’ve been making his first start at Martin Stadium Saturday night against San Jose State.

More than three years ago, Maisel’s son Max took his own life. In an ESPN piece published earlier this week, the sportswriter points out that, similar to Tyler, his son was “a college junior, the second of three children, 21 years old, hundreds of miles away from home.”

By sharing his own experience, Maisel hopes he can help the Hilinski family heal and the longtime journalist visited their home in Irvine, California, after Tyler’s death.

“There’s nothing that prepared me to do a story like this,” Maisel is quoted as saying in the ESPN video. “And I knew that from the moment I read that Tyler had died.”

During Saturday’s show, the “College GameDay” crew will also discuss the potential impact of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, as it relates to the quarterback’s death. Autopsy reports from the Mayo Clinic indicated Hilinski was suffering from a low level of CTE, a brain disease that’s been commonly traced to head trauma sustained during football games.

Reminders of Hilinski were present when “College GameDay” made its season debut in South Bend, Indiana, last Saturday ahead of a game between Notre Dame and Michigan. In addition to the Ol’ Crimson WSU flag that’s appeared on every “GameDay” show since 2003, multiple red flags with Hilinski’s No. 3 were visible throughout the crowd.

My brother, a Notre Dame grad, sent me these shots of the No. 3 flag on the College Gameday set in South Bend. @HilinskisHope

— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) September 1, 2018