Wyatt Sexton- FL State Quarterback

Diagnosis: Lyme disease

The Miami Herald

July 11, 2005

Florida State quarterback Wyatt Sexton, suspended last month after a bizarre incident with local police, was diagnosed last week with advanced Lyme disease and will miss the 2005 season.

FSU announced in a news release early Saturday morning that Sexton's condition is curable and that he will try to return to school next year. Dr. S. Chandra Swami, a specialist in Hermitage, Pa., consulted with Sexton and his family Thursday and recommended that he not be involved with school or the Seminoles' football team while being treated.

''Wyatt has active Lyme disease that has resulted in neuropsychiatric and cardiovascular deficits,'' Swami said in the statement. ``I have strongly recommended intensive therapy with a goal to obtain an optimal state of health. This should include academics and athletics.

``He should not be stressed by these two disciplines for now.''

Sexton started seven games last season, completing 55 percent of his passes for 1,661 yards and eight touchdowns. Now, the Seminoles are left with only two scholarship quarterbacks -- redshirt freshmen Xavier Lee and Drew Weatherford -- and no quarterback on the roster that has thrown a pass in college.

The announcement capped off a wild month of speculation after the June 14 incident in which Sexton called himself ''the son of God'' and had to be subdued with pepper spray.

Despite reports from several news outlets speculating that the quarterback was under the influence of drugs, FSU running backs coach Billy Sexton, Wyatt's father, issued a statement in June that doctors had assured the family that ``drug use is not the problem.''

In Saturday's release, Sexton's parents again said their family had been hurt by ``media reports that were simply not true.''

According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation's website, the illness is contracted through the bite of an infected deer tick and can lead to mental disorders if left untreated.

''Late-chronic Lyme disease really focuses on the neurological and cardiovascular systems,'' said Dr. Penny Tenzer, vice chair of the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Miami School of medicine.

The national Center for Disease Control reported 23,763 cases of Lyme disease in 2002, but it is rare in Florida. There were 79 reported incidents throughout the state that year, and 43 the year before.

FSU's press release offered no explanation as to when or where Sexton was infected.

''With Lyme disease, we don't know how long it takes to move [to an advanced stage],'' Tenzer said.

``It could take weeks, months and even years. . . . It's very unusual that Lyme disease would get to the advanced stage . . . but obviously not impossible by any means.''

Sexton will require several months of antibiotic treatments.

But citing doctor-patient confidentiality, Swami refused to elaborate on the details of the treatment when contacted by telephone Saturday.

FSU hopes the NCAA will grant Sexton a medical hardship this fall, leaving him with two years of eligibility beginning in 2006.