Mercer soccer player dies after collapsing on field during game

Abdul Rasheed Babatunde Agbaje (Courtesy of Mercer Athletics)

The Mercer community is mourning the death of one of the university's soccer players after he reportedly collapsed during a game Monday night.

WMAZ reports that Abdul Rasheed Babatunde Agbaje, better known as Baba, was playing a pick-up soccer game at the university's intramural fields when he went into cardiac arrest. He was 21 years old.

The student-athlete had joined Mercer's football team with his brother, Salam, in the 2019 season, the school reported. In 18 appearances, he made four starts and was named to the Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.

"We're heartbroken over Baba's passing, and our hearts go out to his family and loved ones," men's soccer head coach Brad Ruzzo said in a statement. "He was an incredible person, who embodied what it means to be a Mercer Bear. Everyone who knew Baba loved him and he was a blessing to coach. He will be greatly missed."

Before going to the university, Agbaje played at McIntosh High School in Fayette County. He had been named the 2019 Fayette County Boy's Co-Player of the Year by Fayette County News.

"Our hearts go out to the Agbaje family on their tragic loss and ask the Mercer family to keep them in their thoughts and prayers," said Mercer President William D. Underwood. "Baba was an outstanding student, having been named to the Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll, and was a valued teammate to other members of the soccer team. Words cannot convey the extent of our sadness over Baba's passing."

The university said they will offer counseling to any students affected by Agbaje's death through Mercer Police or Counseling and Psychological Services.

The cause of death has not been determined, and an autopsy is planned.