WORCESTER, Mass. — Holy Cross College officials Monday offered counseling to members of the football team to help them cope with the suicide of their coach, Rick Carter.
"The team obviously is composed of very young men," school spokesman Gregg Burke said. "Death is a very hard thing to understand. A violent death of someone they respected so much is even harder to deal with."
Carter, 42, was found dead in his home Sunday morning by his son, Nick, a 21-year-old Holy Cross student. Worcester County District Attorney John J. Conte said that Carter had hanged himself with a belt.
"Coach Carter always told us we are a family, and we consider this a family problem," Burke said. "We just want to educate the youngsters as to the opportunities available for students for counseling or anything they might need."
Senior quarterback Patrick McCarthy said: "Most of the team is just shocked. It hadn't really sunk in yesterday afternoon. I'll remember him as a coach and as a friend, someone who played a big part in our lives for four years."
Carter's wife, Deanna, had spent the weekend with Carter's seriously ill mother in Kettering, Ohio.
Neither the school nor officials would speculate on reasons for the suicide, but Carter had apparently been shaken by the death of his father, Cloyd, in August.
"His father died in August, and he missed two weeks of practice. I could tell when he came back, it really shook him," said Joe Gibbons, a senior who works as an announcer for the campus radio station.
Carter, who came to Holy Cross in 1981 after coaching at Earlham College and Hanover College in Indiana and the University of Dayton, had compiled a record of 137-58-7. He led Dayton to a Division III national championship in 1980 with a 14-0 record.
In five seasons with the Crusaders, Carter had a 35-19-2 record. Holy Cross was 4-6-1 last season, but a school spokesman said there had been no reports that Carter might be replaced.
Before last season, Father John E. Brooks, the college president, announced that Holy Cross was de-emphasizing football and would eliminate football scholarships in 1989. Then the Crusaders finished 4-6-1, only the third losing season for Carter in 20 years of coaching.