Officials Dispute Report on COVID-Positive Big Ten Athletes

Aaron Gould Sheinin

September 03, 2020

Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect a misstatement about the percentage of athletes affected.

Officials at Penn State University are disputing a report that up to 35% of COVID-positive athletes who play for Big Ten schools developed the heart condition myocarditis.

The university issued a statement saying that Director of Athletic Medicine Wayne Sebastianelli, MD, misspoke and that 15% of Big Ten athletes with COVID-19 developed the heart condition. Sebastianelli told the State College Area school board of directors that cardiac MRI scans showed up to 35% of Big Ten athletes who had tested positive for the coronavirus also had myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart that can be fatal.

The Big Ten announced on August 11 it was postponing all fall sports because of the pandemic. The PAC 12 later followed suit, while the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 are moving forward with plans to be begin playing games this month.

Sebastianelli said it's unclear how long myocarditis may last and whether it would affect how athletes perform in the future.