Normal, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Two members of Illinois State University's athletic department were among seven people killed when a small plane crashed near Bloomington, Illinois early Tuesday morning.

University President Larry Dietz confirmed that Aaron Leetch and Torrey Ward were among those killed as a Cessna 414, returning from the Final Four in Indianapolis, crashed just short of the Central Illinois Regional Airport after midnight.

"Words cannot fully express the grief that is felt in the wake of such a tragedy," Dietz said in a statement. "We move between shock and profound sadness. At times like these we may even question our deeply held beliefs and wonder what the future will hold. It is important to remember that we are never alone in our grief."

Leetch was deputy director of athletics for external operations. He leaves behind his wife, Lindsay, and daughters Avery and Emmersen. Ward was associate head coach of the Redbirds men's basketball team. He is survived by his children Torrey and Tamia.