The athletic doctor for Penn State, Wayne Sebastianelli, confirmed Monday that cardiac MRI scans of Big Ten athletes who contracted COVID-19 showed "30 to roughly 35 percent of their heart muscles" indicated symptoms of myocarditis, according to a report in the Centre Daily Times
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle that can reduce the heart's ability to pump and causes rapid or abnormal heart rhythms. It can be a fatal condition if left untreated.
The symptoms are similar to coronavirus with chest pains, shortness of breath and fatigue. The fear of myocarditis was one of the main reasons that the Big Ten and Pac-12 decided to postpone the 2020 season last month with hopes to return this winter or spring.
Football already carries inherent risk of injury. Two of the five power conferences were uncomfortable with the lack of medical data on myocarditis and other long-term effects from COVID-19 if they decided to play during the ongoing pandemic. That could still change but so far the SEC, ACC and Big 12 show no signs of budging despite outbreaks on multiple campuses in those conferences.