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Michael Gavin of Penn football during last season's Homecoming game on Oct. 22, 2022. Credit: Jesse Zhang

Penn sophomore Michael Gavin died on Oct. 14. 

Vice Provost for University Life Karu Kozuma notified the Penn community of Gavin’s death in an email sent on Oct. 16, on behalf of President Liz Magill and Provost John Jackson. The news was also announced in a statement posted on the Penn Athletics website on Monday. 

Before coming to Penn, Gavin hailed from West Chester, Pa. and attended the Hun School of Princeton and the Haverford School. At Penn, he was enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Gavin was a member of Penn football as a defensive lineman. He did not see any game action for the Quakers last season, but received the Coach Lake award for demonstrating leadership and Penn pride. In high school Gavin put together an impressive 2021 season, which earned him All-MAPL, All-League, and All-Prep recognition, and saw his team crowned MAPL Champions.

Gavin learned that he had a rare form of brain cancer without a cure in June 2022, and, according to a statement that Gavin's family provided in the email to the Penn community, he "accepted the devastating news and decided that he wanted to fight the disease as a Penn student-athlete."

"The entire Penn community that came into contact with Michael demonstrated that kindness is everywhere, meeting him where he was throughout his battle and fueling his will to live," his family wrote.

According to football coach Ray Priore, the team learned of Gavin’s death prior to its game against Columbia on Saturday, which the Quakers won 20-17. 

After the game, Priore told The Daily Pennsylvanian that the news “puts into reality what things are important and what things aren’t important.”

“I had to tell the [team] this morning, and they came back and played like champions, and I’m so proud of them for that … they did it for Michael today,” Priore said on Saturday.

In the statement emailed to the Penn community, Priore added that Gavin "will forever be one of the toughest and bravest men I have ever met."

"His legacy will live on in all our hearts, and he will forever be a part of the Penn football family," Priore wrote. "On behalf of the staff and team, I offer my deepest condolences to the Gavin family and to all of those who had the honor to know and love Michael.”

According to Penn Athletics, discussions about how to honor Gavin are ongoing ahead of Penn football's next home game vs. Brown on Oct. 27. 

At this time, Penn is offering both in person and virtual resources for students and other community members. Kozuma wrote that student-athletes who are seeking support are encouraged to reach out to Liz Nobis, athletics psychologist in the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics.


The HELP Line: 215-898-HELP

Counseling and Psychological Services: 215-898-7021 (active 24/7)

Student Health Service: 215-746-3535

Office of the Vice Provost for University Life: 215-898-6081

University Chaplain’s Office: 215-898-8456   

Reach-A-Peer Helpline:

215-573-2727 (every day from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.)

215-515-7332 (texting service available 24/7)  

Sports Reporter Ansh Jakatimath contributed to this story.