Disbelief, shock and the “Twilight Zone” were just some of the words that people used to describe their thoughts after hearing NCAA President Mark Emmert announce the sanctions against Penn State.
More than 200 people gathered at the HUB-Robeson Center to watch the announcement.
Some gasped in shock and others tried to hold back tears as Emmert announced that Penn State would be fined $60 million, would not be eligible for the postseason or bowl games for four years, would have scholarships reduced for four years and have all wins from 1998 to 2011 vacated.
Once the press conference concluded, students expressed their concerns including thoughts on bowl games, vacated wins, fines and tuition.
With the four-year bowl ban, many incoming freshmen will not be able to see the Nittany Lions in a bowl game in their time as undergraduates.
“I feel like everyone who is involved is not here anymore so it is not really fair,” Robert Strang (freshman-communications) said.
Strang also said he thinks the reduction in scholarships will lower the quality of the football program.
There was a stunned air in the HUB after the sanctions were read.
Maria Wolfel (freshman-health and human development) could not initially find words to explain but said that she felt like she was “punched in the gut.”
“I was shaking when I was watching,” Wolfel said. “I was trying to hold back tears. It’s terrible.”
Gabby Coll (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) also felt overwhelmed by the sanctions.
“I’m really upset, it’s shocking and its sad that they are penalizing the players who were at the time maybe five to nine years old,” Coll said. “The current players of our teams that make up all the athletics here are being penalized for something that five men did.”
Many students were relieved that the football program did not receive “the death penalty.”
At the same time, Tom Mangan (freshman-engineering) felt the vacation of wins was “uncalled for.”
The NCAA’s $60 million fine levied against Penn State caused concern from some about a rise in tuition, and was also a concern for Sam Rocktashel (freshman-engineering).
“I’m glad it is going to a good cause but we still have to pay,” Rocktashel said. “It is fairly expensive to come [to Penn State].”
Meanwhile, some students felt the fine was a fair punishment.
“I think that’s fair, but to punish the students and have sanctions for all of the sports teams is a little overbearing and ignores the mission entirely,” Ethan Jones (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) said.
Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys on June 22. Eight testified against him because the people referred to as “Victim 2” and “Victim 8” were never identified by investigators.
Current students were not the only ones to share their reactions.
Alumni volunteers and student tour guides carried on as normal — greeting and showing prospective students and their parents around campus during Monday’s “Spend A Summer Day.” When the announcement was made, the visitors were in an information session. Those interviewed did not know the specifics of the sanctions immediately following the press conference.
Tour guide Matthew Bakowicz said prospective students looked excited to be on campus.
“Every student I have seen come off the buses has [high-fived] the Nittany Lion,” Bakowicz said. “They are happy to be here. They know this is a great academic institution.”
As tours and colleges held orientations, more people became aware of the details of the sanctions.
Prospective student, Jeff Hauptschein, of Canonsburg, Pa, and his father, Rich, could not believe that they were on campus the day that sanctions were announced. They both said the visit was about academics and left impressed.
On separate occasions as tours passed by, some yelled out “We Are” followed by the usual “Penn State” response.