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Division II Title-Winning College Quarterback Is Found Dead

Quarterback Cullen Finnerty
Quarterback Cullen Finnerty poses for his 2008 National Football League headshot at photo day in Denver. Finnerty was with the Denver Broncos during the 2008 offseason but never played in the NFL. Source: NFL via Getty Images

May 29 (Bloomberg) -- Cullen Finnerty, who led Grand Valley State’s football team to three Division II championships and won 51 games over four seasons as the school’s quarterback, was found dead after disappearing on a fishing trip. He was 30.

Finnerty was reported missing by his family three days ago following a solo fishing trip near Baldwin, Michigan. Current football players and coaches from Grand Valley State joined other alumni who traveled to the area to assist with the search for Finnerty, led by the Baldwin Police Department.

Finnerty’s body was discovered last night, about a half-mile from where his fishing boat had been found on the Baldwin River on May 26. His body, still in fishing waders and a camouflage coat, was concealed from aerial searches because it was underneath a pine tree, Lake County Sheriff Robert Hilts said at a televised news conference.

“We don’t know the cause of death, so we’re forced to treat it as a crime scene,” Hilts said. “That’s what we’ll have to do until we determine what actually caused his death.”

Finnerty passed for more than 10,000 yards and rushed for more than 2,000 yards while leading Grand Valley State, based in Allendale, Michigan, to a 51-4 record and national championships in 2003, 2005 and 2006. His career-win total is one better than the Division I record of 50 by former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.

Finnerty was the runner-up for the Harlon Hill Award as the nation’s best Division II player as a senior in 2006, behind Chadron State running back Danny Woodhead, now of the National Football League’s San Diego Chargers. Grand Valley’s 2003 national championship team was coached by Brian Kelly, who’s now at Notre Dame.

Finnerty was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2007 and released before the preseason. He was with the Denver Broncos during the 2008 offseason but never played in the NFL.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at

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