Tee Shepard Has a Heart Condition

Submitted by hart20 on March 28th, 2012 at 4:32 AM

While we all knew that Tee Shepard left Notre Dame recently, we didn't know the reason. We liked to think that it was Brian Kelly's anger, maybe a dash of homesickness, or even a new found hatred for Notre Dame. In reality, Shepard is facing a potentially life-threating heart condition.

“I had known since high school that there was something with my heart, but I never knew it was anything serious,” Shepard said. “When I took my physical at Notre Dame, they saw it right away. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I dropped out and came home to figure out what to do next."

Shepard does say that he's planning to return to football though and I, for one,  wish him good luck. 

Link (Full article is paywalled, quote is in preview): http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/ncfrecruiting/west/post?id=2483



March 28th, 2012 at 5:34 AM ^

does anyone know why he left school? Did Notre Dame tell him he couldn't play? I understand he probably went home to clear his head but if he can't play football, then why not stay at Notre Dame and get an education? Unless they took his scholarship away. I don't have any idea how this works. Say a Michigan recruit comes in with a medical condition and can't play, does he still get some kind of scholarship from the university?

turd ferguson

March 28th, 2012 at 8:51 AM ^

The kid just found out that he has a potentially life-threatening heart condition and might not be able to play the sport that he loves and probably expected to play for a very long time. I think you could be a little more sympathetic to his desire to go home for a bit and collect his thoughts.


March 28th, 2012 at 8:56 AM ^

Not to mention that, at eighteen, most of us would want our parents around for rounds of serious meetings with doctors and possibly multiple tests at hospitals. For as much grief as Kelly (rightfully) gets on here, I'm assuming he would do whatever he could to let the kid continue his studies at ND when he can.

turd ferguson

March 28th, 2012 at 12:25 PM ^

So let's see...

HELLE and 93grad opened their accounts on the exact same day, have the same tendencies with capitalizing sentences, and are making the same obnoxious, insensitive point about a kid who was just diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition.

I was wondering who the hell +1'd HELLE's point.  How many accounts do you have?

swan flu

March 28th, 2012 at 6:51 AM ^

This just makes me think of Fabrice Muamba collapsing on the pitch a few weeks ago. Terrifying. I hope he gets good medical advice and I hope he stays healthy


March 28th, 2012 at 8:31 AM ^

Maybe, he didn't want to be so far from home. It seems he is not ready to give up on football just yet. He might want to seek treatment or more medical opinions near home. If he plays in SoCal he will close to family and DRs. I wouldn't want to live so far from home if I wanted to give football another shot especially if something were to happen.

R Kelly

March 28th, 2012 at 11:24 AM ^

Makes sense, thank you.  I was actually wondering this back before we knew he had the heart condition and thought he was just homesick.  So I didn't think of it in terms of being medically cleared to play,  but I guess either way the answer is really the same.  Hypothetically its still possible (i.e.there is no rule preventing him from coming back this fall, it most likely just a matter of personal choice).


March 28th, 2012 at 9:49 AM ^

Interesting that he says he plans on returning to football... I suspect that may be a little bit of denial talking (which is natural).  Most "serious" heart problems that would prevent you from playing football are not curable.  The most common cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.  While treatable, there's no doctor in his/her right mind that would clear you for sports given the risk of sudden death.  Then again, it's possible he has something repairable like a VSD (hole in his heart)... that might go along with him knowing there was something wrong and planning on getting back to football eventually.

Best of luck to the kid and his family.


March 28th, 2012 at 10:05 AM ^

Why leave?

I agree- why leave?  Is it to play elsewhere?  Seems like a medical hardship at ND would be the way to go- free education at a top school is hard to beat.

Real sad to see anyone face this type of situation though- and wish him the best with regards to recovery.


March 28th, 2012 at 10:49 AM ^

As a congenital cardiologist, I'm kind of curious as to what he has... I agree with RakeFight above.  Playing the odds it's probably hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which case no one will every sign off on him playing football.  One of the other sites suggested that the family felt he might be cleared again over the summer to play again, I can't get through the paywall, but it doesn't sounds like the actual diagnosis has been made public. Hope it's not something bad and that he gets good advice.




March 28th, 2012 at 11:43 AM ^

What do you make of his statement that he knew he had a heart problem, but didn't know it was serious?  What else would be in his differential?  (that's why I suggested VSD... maybe previous docs heard the murmur, but blew it off (no pun intended))  But, alas, I'm just a lowly rheumatologist.

Did you train at the U?  (Med school '01, Fellowship '07)


March 28th, 2012 at 12:23 PM ^

Hard to tell from the story.  One could speculate that he was told he had a heart murmur but that it was innocent and didn't need anything else done. If he had structural heart disease, would consider atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect. ASD probably a little more likely as the murmur would be less specific and more likely sound like an innocent murmur.  A small VSD would not require any further evaluation or treatment (but would cause a prominent murmur that any rheumatologist could hear). An ASD could get closed (likely in the cath lab) and then likely return without restriction. Because they're keeping this kind of quiet, that makes me wonder if they're worried he has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.  All baseless speculation on my part.

U of M med peds residency 1998-2002, peds card 2003-2006.



M Wolve

March 28th, 2012 at 1:30 PM ^

From a lowly 2nd year med student- Anything you can think that it may be outside of HCM, VSD, or ASD?  I'm sure you can think of another 10 things that it may be, but anything outside of those three that have a higher likelihood than a fraction of a percent?  It sounds like this is on the more extreme side of possibilities with him heading home and all, which makes it all the more surprising that they discovered his condition at ND and not prior.  Just trying to up my knowledge base and justify why I'm always on this site.  Thanks. 


March 28th, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

I guess the other possibilities woud be non-severe valve abnormalities - pulmonary stenosis or aortic stenosis.  Those would both in the amorphous category where physicians may vary in their recommendations.  The other possiblities would be really rare things - Ebstein anomaly of the tricuspid valve, congenitally corrected transpostion (although I would be suprpised if somebody could be an elite athlete with a systemic right ventricle).  I suppose he could have a congenital coronary anomaly, although that isn't consistent with the story that he knew about it a while ago. 


From a teach the medical student standpoint, the most common congenital heart disease which present in adulthood are atrial septal defect and congenitally corrected transposition.  VSD's usually present younger because they have a promiment murmur.


March 30th, 2012 at 9:19 AM ^

Hello Everyone, former Ann Arbor resident, big UM fan, big Hoke fan(went to HS with him) and die hard college football fan living on the west coast.   I have to chime in on this one, since it seems everyone outside looking in continues to be very well meaning, but are continuing to believe what they 'read' instead of looking behind the scenes and getting the Paul Harvey "The Rest of the Story'

1.  Tee Shephard is a fine young man

2.  Tee Shephard has had many people trying to influence him and his father from a very early age, influence that, on one hand has helped him get his deserved national attention but, on the other hand, has gotten him suspended from playing HS ball for 2 of his 3 years of playing time in Fresno, CA.  Bad advice, illegal transfers, lots of people trying to 'work the system' for their own advantage, and they have gotten Tee into sad situations so far.

3.  Move forward to those same people helping him get to the next level.  Yes, Tee did have a heart condition, and yes, it needed some attention, and yes, the simple(as far as cardiac treatments go)  outpatient procedure was successful, and yes, all of this was known and COMPLETED at ND. 

Now, if I were Paul Harvey, I would have creative license here, as well as lawyers to back me up, and a public forum where investigative journalism is applauded.  However, I am not at liberty to share the information that Paul Harvey WOULD.  What I can tell you is this.   Tee Shephard is healthy enough to be cleared and to play football at ND.  Tee Shephard is not at Notre Dame because of other factors that are not health related.  The health related SPIN DOCTOR position is a convenient(serious, but convenient) way of positioning the situation so he will be able to petition the NCAA to NOT LOSE a year of eligibility due to his actions and choices he made. 


He already lost almost 2 years of elligibility in HS due to some of these similar choices. a We all know the NCAA is much more strict in enforcing their legal definitions under their scholarship and eligibility requirements than the local HS governing bodies are.  The Spin Doctors(not the cardiologists) are the ones putting out the one piece of the ENTIRE story that MAY give the young man a very tiny loophole to slide through, and maintain his full 4 years of eligibillity(5 counting redshirt)