A Pennsylvania high school retracted its statement that an alum died of COVID-19 this week.

Jamain Stephens, a 20-year-old defensive lineman at the California University of Pennsylvania (CUP) who is from Pittsburgh, died Tuesday.

“Jamain was such a wonderful student with a smile on his face every time you saw him,” the school's athletic director, Karen Hjerpe, the school's athletic director, said in a statement. “His personality was contagious, and he made such a positive impact on everyone he met.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Stephens played dozens of games for the university and was majoring in business administration at the time of his death.

Stephens's former high school, Central Catholic in Pittsburgh, also mourned his death, and initially said Tuesday that Stephens's cause of death was "complications of COVID-19." 

A second statement from the high school's principal retracted that claim.

"In an effort to get the news out about his death in a timely manner, we mistakenly attributed his death without official confirmation on cause of death. We had obtained the information about his passing from close friends of Jamain, who reached out to us with the news. We apologize for this error," the statement said.

"Jamain was the embodiment of everything a Central Catholic student should be: kind, gentle, giving, faithful and a friend to all. We pray for Jamain and his friends and family during this terrible time," Central Catholic High School's principal added.

Stephens's father, also named Jamain Stephens, was previously an offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.

His death comes as universities around the country have struggled to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many school administrators have said coronavirus outbreaks on campus are coming from undergraduates, pointing to parties and gatherings in student housing and Greek life residences.

The University of North Carolina moved earlier this year to suspend all in-person classes after clusters of coronavirus on campus resulted in nearly 200 students testing positive just days after returning to campus.

This article was updated on Sept. 9 at 6:38 p.m. to include a retraction of Central Catholic High School's initial claim regarding the cause of Stephens's death (which was mistakenly attributed to CUP) by Central High School's principal, Tony Baginski.