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South Carolina newspaper apologizes for insensitive Hilinski family headline

Freshman Ryan Hilinski has been South Carolina's starting quarterback since Jake Bentley suffered an injury in Week 1. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

The State, a newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, has apologized for its main headline on the front of its Sunday morning sports section.

The headline for the coverage of South Carolina’s 34-14 loss at Missouri was “Hilinski’s Hope Sinks.” That was in reference to South Carolina freshman QB Ryan Hilinski.

“Hilinski’s Hope” is also the name of the nonprofit organization the QB’s family started after his brother Tyler, a Washington State quarterback, took his own life after the 2017 season.

The paper made its apology in a series of tweets Sunday morning after the headline was rightfully criticized.

The State also explained the process behind the headline’s creation in a later series of tweets and said the copy editor based in Charlotte was not making a reference to the nonprofit when the headline for the print edition was created.

Ryan Hilinski became starter after Jake Bentley’s injury

Hilinski entered the season as the backup to four-year starter Jake Bentley. But Bentley suffered a season-ending injury in the Gamecocks’ Week 1 loss to North Carolina and Hilinski took over as the team’s starter.

Hilinski’s brother Tyler played at Washington State in 2016 and 2017 and played in eight games as a sophomore before it looked like he would take over as the team’s starter in 2018.

After he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in January 2018, his parents Kym and Mark started the “Hilinski’s Hope” nonprofit to help spread awareness and break the stigma around mental health issues for college athletes.

When Ryan enrolled at South Carolina ahead of the 2019 season, the Hilinski family moved to the state to be closer to him.

South Carolina doesn’t accept paper’s apology

Even with The State’s apology and explanation, the South Carolina football program released a statement blasting the headline as “unprofessional and irresponsible journalism.”

The program said it didn’t believe the apology was enough, and called for The State to fund and provide educational awareness to support the fight against the stigma of mental illness.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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