Florida State won’t be at full strength for Thursday’s Sweet 16 contest against Gonzaga in Anaheim, California.
The Seminoles will be without senior forward Phil Cofer, who didn’t play in FSU’s opening-round win over Vermont because of a foot injury and then learned devastating news following the game that his father, Mike, had passed away.
Head coach Leonard Hamilton told CBS’s Jon Rothstein that he doesn’t expect Cofer to be available “as he deals with one of the most challenging things a young person has to deal with.”
It was a heartbreaking scene inside the FSU locker room when Cofer took the phone call from his mother during the media availability session following a 76-69 victory over Vermont. Cofer broke down in tears and teammates quickly consoled Cofer and took their teammate to a private room.
Mike Cofer played football at the University of Tennessee and was a Pro Bowl linebacker during a 10-year career with the Detroit Lions. Cofer, 58, battled Amyloidosis, a rare disease that often affects the heart, kidneys and other organs. Hamilton said Cofer had been battling the disease for 10 years.
In a social media post, Cofer thanked fans for their support during a difficult time and asked for help via a GoFundme page to offset medical and funeral expenses. As of Monday afternoon, approximately $50,000 had been raised toward the $100,000 goal.
The Seminoles wore a black patch with the initials “MC” on their warm-up shirts and game jerseys in Saturday’s victory over Murray State. Cofer was with the team for the game before returning to be with family in Fayetteville, Georgia.
Cofer was the team’s top scorer last season when the Seminoles upset Gonzaga 75-60 in the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles.
The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Cofer missed the first nine games of this season with a broken right foot. He experienced pain and inflammation in his right foot after three ACC Tournament games. Cofer averages 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds.
“Unfortunately we’re not going to have our leader,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton was optimistic reserve guard David Nichols will be ready for Thursday’s game. The 6-foot-1 Nichols didn’t play versus Murray State after injuring his ankle late in Thursday’s victory over Vermont.
Nichols, a grad transfer from Albany, averages 17.4 minutes, 6.4 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
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