Up to 35% of Big Ten athletes who contracted COVID-19 show signs of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, according to a Penn State doctor, Wayne Sebastianelli, Penn State’s director of athletic medicine.
“When we looked at our COVID-positive athletes, whether they were symptomatic or not, 30 to roughly 35 percent of their heart muscles are inflamed…and we really just don’t know what to do with it right now. It’s still very early in the infection. Some of that has led to the Pac-12 and the Big Ten’s decision to sort of put a hiatus on what’s happening.” Sebastianelli said.
“What we have seen is when people have been studied with cardiac MRI scans — symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID infections — is a level of inflammation in cardiac muscle that just is alarming,” he said.
How this would affect athletes in the long term is yet unknown, whether or not they could go from elite to average athletes.
The league has been facing mounting pressure from athletes, coaches, parents and Trump on the decision of the league not to play this fall. The sports include football, basketball, and soccer.
“As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall,” said Commissioner Kevin Warren at the time.