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Heart Condition Connected to COVID-19 Concerned Administrators

August 13, 2020 / Athletic Administration
As the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences became the first of the ‘Power 5’ conferences to forgo football and fall sports, concerns over complications of student-athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 appeared to be at the root of the decision.

According to a report from ESPN, a rare heart condition possibly linked to the coronavirus fueled the concerns by the Power 5 conference administrators. Myocarditis, described as an inflammation of the heart muscle, has been discovered in at least five Big Ten student-athletes and other student-athletes, according to the report.

heartThe condition is typically caused by a viral infection, with the common cold, H1NI influenza, and mononucleosis as examples. Should myocarditis go undiagnosed and untreated, damage can occur and cause a sudden cardiac arrest — which can be fatal in certain cases.

» RELATED: Big Ten, Pac-12 Officially Cancel Football Season

Below is an excerpt from the ESPN report offering further explanation.

The concern has “made the bar higher” for returning to fall sports, said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, director of the University of Washington Medicine Center for Sports Cardiology and a sports medicine physician who advises the NCAA on cardiac issues, “and it could be we don’t get there.”

Conference officials and athletic directors told ESPN that the uncertainty about the long-term effects of myocarditis has been discussed in meetings of presidents and chancellors, commissioners and athletic directors, and health advisory board members from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and other conferences around the country. Last week, college administrators saw a Facebook post from Debbie Rucker, mother of Indiana offensive lineman Brady Feeney, who wrote that her son was dealing with potential heart problems after battling COVID-19.

The Mid-American Conference, after receiving medical reports about myocarditis and other problems associated with the coronavirus, was the first FBS conference to postpone fall sports on Saturday.

“What we don’t know was really haunting us, and that’s why we came to our final decision,” Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier said. “That’s part of the data that our presidents used. This mom gave us a play-by-play. That stuff is extremely scary.”

To read the full report on student-athletes and myocarditis from ESPN, click here