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MSSU's new head football coach Jeff Sims speaks to the community and local media during a news conference in November at the North Endzone Facility at MSSU. 

When Jeff Sims was hired as Missouri Southern's head football coach, university officials were aware that a football player had died on Aug. 1 at Garden City Community College — Sims' former place of employment.

MSSU issued a statement on Thursday.

”Missouri Southern State University joins Garden City Community College in mourning the death of their student-athlete, Braeden Bradforth, in August. MSSU was aware of Bradforth’s death when then-GCCC head football coach, Jeff Sims, interviewed at Missouri Southern in October 2018. Coach Sims shared with MSSU his recollection of the circumstances surrounding Bradforth’s death, including the timeline and comments made by the attending physician. We believe this is a matter for Garden City Community College and the Bradforth family to resolve. Our hearts go out to the family and the Garden City community.”

Sims was announced as Missouri Southern's football coach on Nov. 11 and officially began his duties at MSSU on Dec. 1.

Contacted in his office at MSSU earlier this week, Sims said, "I appreciate you calling and asking. I've been advised not to make any comments by both schools."

Bradforth, 19, was pronounced dead at St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City, Kansas, less than two hours after Garden City's second practice on Aug. 1, which was the first day of fall camp. Bradforth, from Neptune, New Jersey, was an incoming freshman and had arrived in Garden City the day before he died.

The cause of death was unknown until an autopsy report prepared by Finney County, Kansas, was released on Nov. 29 –– the same day Garden City lost 10-9 to East Mississippi in the NJCAA championship game at Pittsburg State.

The report concluded exertional heat stroke (EHS) was the cause of death.

Garden City issued its first statement on the matter six days after the report's release.

“Garden City Community College received word on November 29th that the autopsy report for former GCCC student Braeden Bradforth was released as public record. The report cites Braden’s cause of death as exertional heat stroke. Garden City Community College grieves with Braeden’s family after his untimely death in August of 2018. The institution recognizes the importance of the autopsy’s findings, and that these findings provide Braden’s family with an understanding of the medical circumstances surrounding his passing. In order to provide additional factual information, an internal review is being conducted by GCCC administrators.The review was launched at the direction of Interim President, Dr. Ryan Ruda. It was among the first actions taken in his new role. The ongoing review is intended to ensure that the college can transparently inform the community, the media, and-most importantly-Braeden’s family of the accurate facts and circumstances surrounding Braeden’s death.”

On Aug. 3, Sports Illustrated reported Sims had said an emergency room doctor told him a post-mortem test "was indicative of a blood clotting disorder," resulting in Bradforth's death.

A similar report was made a day earlier by Garden City Telegram, which cited Sims for saying "an emergency room physician told him Bradforth suffered from an existing medical issue, possibly unbeknownst to the player and unrelated to athletics or the day's physical activity."

Dr. Eva Vachal, who conducted Bradforth's autopsy, ruled out blood clotting as well as other potential death causers –– drug overdose, alcohol poisoning, previously unknown illnesses.

"Considering the facts surrounding the case –– decedent's first intense workout of the year; ambient temperature in the 80s with humidity; stomach containing food and vomiting… the cause of death is judged to be exertional heat stroke," Vachal said.

Attempts by The Globe to contact administrators at GCCC and members of Bradforth's family were unsuccessful.

Contact Jared Porter on Twitter at @JaredPorterJG.

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Jared Porter is the award-winning sports editor for The Joplin Globe. He previously was sports editor in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Reach him at sports@joplinglobe.com.