Kentucky columnist collapses outside Louisville arena, dies

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Ira Combs, a Kentucky sports columnist who also helped found the Joe B. Hall Prep Classic high school boys' basketball tournament, has died. He was 61.

Combs collapsed Thursday just outside the KFCYum! Center on his way to pick up credentials for the NCAA Tournament. His brother, Oscar, confirmed to The Associated Press that he died.

NCAA President Mark Emmert extended sympathies to Combs' family, friends, colleagues and readers in a statement.

Combs, who wrote for the website, was at Rupp Arena on Wednesday for the start of the Boys' Sweet Sixteen Basketball Tournament. Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement that everyone at UK athletics are deeply saddened to learn of Combs' death, calling him a fixture at their events for decades.

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