Allan Chaney returns to basketball despite his severe heart condition

By Tim Womble, Staff Writer

September 19, 2012

It’s a classic scene in many sports- themed television dramas: A doctor looks to the injured athlete and mutters a somber, “I’m sorry to say that you’ll never play again.”

This is a common storyline in sports fiction, but for Allan Chaney, a former top-100 basketball recruit and new member of the HPU Men’s Basketball team, there’s nothing fictitious about it.

It was in April 2010, after transferring from the University of Florida to Virginia Tech, that Chaney’s life forever changed.

Chaney collapsed to the court during an offseason workout. He believed the cause was dehydration, but doctors told him otherwise.

The 6-foot-9 forward was diagnosed with a severe case of viral myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that can cause many problems and even be fatal.

Following months of tests and visits with doctors it was determined by the Virginia Tech medical staff that with his current condition, Chaney could not be cleared to play.

“The chances of Chaney playing again seem slim,” wrote Eamonn Brennan of ESPN.com, following Virginia Tech’s decision. “Few coaches and even fewer team doctors are willing to take the risk on a kid with any sort of heart condition; even one who might only have a ‘two percent’ chance of striking again in the future.”

Following the announcement by Virginia Tech in 2011, Chaney missed two more seasons, however he never gave up. He continued to work with doctors and have procedures done in hopes of making a comeback.

Finally in 2012, Chaney got his break as Francis Marchlinski, renowned doctor at the University of Pennsylvania, cleared him to play, following a defibrillator being permanently implanted in his chest.

It was at this point that one coach decided to take a chance on Chaney. Scott Cherry, head coach of the High Point University Panthers saw promise in Chaney’s abilities and a drive to succeed and convinced him to play for the Panthers this season.

“This is a fantastic day for the men’s basketball team and High Point University,” said Cherry in a press release. “Allan is not only a good player, but he is a great person and he will be a great ambassador for our University.”

Although Chaney received his degree from Virginia Tech this past year he will be eligible to play immediately, as a red-shirt senior. Chaney is enrolled in the Norcross Graduate School and will be looking to earn his master’s in nonprofit management.

“It’s unbelievable to be here at High Point University restarting my basketball career,” said Chaney. “I love it here, it’s amazing. This school, this campus, I’ve never seen anything like it. The last few years I’ve been going to school and been around the team at Virginia Tech, but I knew I wasn’t going to play. It’s different here, getting ready to play this season. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

Chaney will be the only NCAA Div. 1 men’s basketball player to compete this season with an artificial defibrillator, but that isn’t the only thing that makes him unique. Being told that you will never be able to do the thing you love again is tough, add battling a severe heart condition and most people would have given up.

Chaney’s drive and determination cannot be measured by statistics or viewed in a box score, but the buzz surrounding his return to the court hint that his statistics will be equally impressive.