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Pepperdine University leader Maurice Hilliard found dead in Malibu

Photo by Yeshwanth Rao via Flickr Creative Commons

The body of Pepperdine University's athletic chaplain, assistant coach, and program director, Maurice Hillard, was found Monday on the beach in Malibu. The campus leader was reportedly out for a walk when he collapsed, reports KTLA.

Hilliard's body was discovered near Corral Canyon in the 2600 block of Pacific Coast Highway around 9 a.m. The exact cause of death was not determined, however the coroner noted no sign of foul play or trauma to the body. An autopsy will be conducted.

Pepperdine's president, Andrew K. Benton, released a statement Monday afternoon:

"We are saddened to learn that Maurice Hilliard, our University Athletic Chaplain and program director at the Boone Center for the Family, died earlier today. Maurice touched the lives of so many of us at Pepperdine, especially our athletes who looked up to Maurice as a friend, counselor, and mentor. He will be greatly missed.

Maurice grew up in Los Angeles and earned a bachelor's degree at the University of La Verne and a Master's of Divinity in Apologetics at Biola University. He spent 10 years as a basketball coach at Pepperdine and then became the program director at the Boone Center for the Family.

Maurice recently published a book called The Price of a Pearl where he shared what he learned through teaching, coaching, and mentoring young adults. He said he wrote the book for 'those who will open their hearts and minds to the healing power of God and who are willing to receive help.'

Maurice was frequently invited to speak at conferences and seminars about the transformational power of God in the lives of young adults.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.Please offer your prayers for Maurice's family and help each other through this difficult time."

Students and faculty were outspoken about Hillard's influence, recounting his giving nature and desire to show love to the world. Women's Basketball coach Julie Russo said about Hilliard, "Even if it were just for a moment, you knew you were encountering something great, someone great."