With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, doubts about college athletics have been very present over the past few weeks.
Penn State Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour, spoke to the media via Zoom on Wednesday to discuss any and all concerns over the upcoming football season.
She started off by making it clear that mask-use during this time is crucial especially if we want to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible.
She then shared that there have been zero positive cases out of the 102 student-athletes tested so far but added that there are more tests that they are awaiting results for.
Here is everything else you need to know from Barbour’s press conference:
Fans at Beaver Stadium
Barbour addressed the current situation regarding tickets to sporting events for the fall.
She says that it is likely that season ticket holders will be the only fans attending games if there were to be any attendance at all.
“Without a season ticket, no matter what our capacity is, you're probably not coming to a Penn State game this year,” Barbour said. “I appreciate our fans and their fanaticism for Penn State football, and we hope to be able to reward them with a safe and healthy opportunity to come watch Penn State football this year.”
The status of Penn State student tickets is still up in the air.
Concerns about certain teams honoring the schedule were brought up on Wednesday after it became apparent that nonconference opponents may not be able to travel due to health and economic concerns.
While Barbour says that there are no football cancellations yet, she did inform the media that there have been schools in other sports who have called to say that their scheduled games with Penn State could be an issue.
“We've had schools contact those depending on how far they're traveling and to say that they won't be, they won't be fulfilling their schedule,” Barbour said. “So that's already started to happen, but it hasn't happened in football.”
Barbour did not name any particular schools in her press conference.
Student-athlete health and scholarship concerns
Barbour made sure to express that Penn State Athletics is keeping the students-athletes’ best interest in mind at all times when it comes to making protocols and restrictions.
She stated that the athletes have all been told that once they arrive back in State College, they are recommended to stay in town until their seasons start if they want to avoid another two-week quarantine.
Some students have yet to return for both health and family reasons since they won’t be able to see loved ones again until further notice.
None of the athletes have been asked to sign a liability waiver, Barbour said.
“We do have what we're calling our one team pledge that all of our student athletes and eventually staff will sign up,” Barbour said, “and all that is a reiteration of all of the educational stuff, all of the protocols, and frankly, kind of acknowledgement of the importance to themselves, their teammates, others, their coaches, how important following these protocols are, and that they pledge to follow them.”
One thing that Barbour had no doubt over was that if students do not elect to play for safety reasons, then their scholarship will still be honored.
“The decision is completely theirs, and their scholarship is not in jeopardy at all. We will work with them on that and again, both health and safety as it relates to the virus,” Barbour said.
Additionally, Barbour said that Penn State has not furloughed any full-time staff in the athletic department, although she expects to begin the process of asking staff members to take pay cuts in the near future.
Releasing test results/positive test protocols
Testing for both players and coaches will continue throughout the offseason with announcements on any cases coming every two weeks.
Penn State Athletics will be releasing an update on any positive student cases every two weeks, but will not do the same for coaches and athletic officials.
The announcement will come from someone within the program every other Wednesday and will let the public know of the protocols that will be taken should there be a positive test.
In the case of positive tests, individuals will be immediately isolated and contact tracing will subsequently take place, Barbour said.
She says that the health and safety concerns will be addressed by Penn State Health.
“Our performance team in conjunction with Penn State Health has really carried the lumber here,” Barbour said, “and when it was time to start bringing teams back, we were ready.”