UH football player opting out of season over health concern

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A University of Houston football player has opted out of the 2020 season, citing health concerns after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Lineman Sedrick Williams wrote in a Facebook post on Aug. 8 that "as a result of the virus I've had complications with my heart and I really don't know the outcome or what's in store for me in the future, I just know that my life is more precious to me than football could ever be."

Williams vowed to come back "bigger, faster, & stronger than ever."



Though Williams didn't say he had a rare heart condition linked to COVID-19 called myocarditis, the ailment is fueling concerns about whether schools in the Power 5 conferences, which does not include UH, should hold sports this fall.

The Power 5 conferences include the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference and Southeastern Conference (SEC).

On Saturday, the Mid-American Conference became the first Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS, to postpone fall sports after it received medical reports about myocarditis and other problems tied to the coronavirus.

"It was not a decision that was made lightly, not a decision that was made quickly, and it was a decision that was made based on the advice of our medical experts," said MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, also calling the decision "crushing."

"What I can say is we've put in place a process to study and plan and prepare for the ability to provide competitive opportunities for our fall sports student-athletes in the spring. It will include bringing together administrators, coaches, student-athletes, faculty and medical advisers to lay out a 12-month calendar from January to December where we look at the possibility of playing two seasons in a calendar year, and examine all the facts around it," Steinbrecher continued.

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. It's usually caused by a viral infection, and, left undiagnosed or untreated, can cause heart damage and sudden cardiac arrest, which can be deadly.

Sources told ESPN myocarditis has been found in at least five Big Ten Conference athletes and in several athletes in other conferences.

While multiple athletes have started screening student-athletes for the condition, their process to check for the illness can vary.

At the University of Washington, Dr. Jonathan Drezner, a sports physician who also advises the NCAA on cardiac issues, said part of his post-COVID-19 evaluation for athletes is a cardiac MRI.

He said the scans provide the best definition of the heart in order to detect myocarditis.

Drezner also told ESPN he and other health officials plan to begin discussions this week on how to start collecting COVID-19-related cardiac information on college athletes.

Still, several players say they want to play.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is among the prominent college athletes who have expressed a desire to play the 2020 season.

"People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don't play. Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they contract COVID-19," Lawrence wrote on Twitter.



President Donald Trump has also tweeted his support for college sports to return in the fall.

"The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled. #WeWantToPlay," Trump wrote in a tweet.

According to information from a conference source to ESPN, the Big Ten presidents were expected to meet Tuesday to decide whether to push the start of its season back to Sept. 26 or postpone it until the spring.
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