Penn State athletic director lauds the decision to play football this fall in this story provided by The Center Square.
The return of Big Ten football “is a positive for not only our athletics department, but our campus community and Penn State nation,” Penn State’s athletic director said.
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With the decision to reinstate the fall football season, teams will play their first games starting Oct. 23. The season will conclude with the conference championship game on Dec. 19, a day before the College Football Playoff (CFP) selection committee will release its final rankings.
“Most importantly, I am thrilled for our student-athletes, coaches and staff, as I know how much continued hard work they have put in during this summer and fall with their eyes on returning to competition,” Sandy Barbour, the school’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said in a statement.
“As always, the Big Ten has placed health and safety at the forefront,” Barbour added. “The outlined return to competition protocol places the priority on that principle, as well as establishing several research initiatives as we work together to address the health and societal impacts of COVID-19.”
The conference put in place testing protocols for athletes and a color-coded system to identify the rate of positive COVID-19 tests. Under the new protocols, each school must appoint a Chief Infection Officer (CInO) to oversee testing and reporting.
Under the green level, which applies to teams with a positivity rate of 2 percent or less or a population positivity rate of 3.5 percent or less, teams can continue to practice and play, while they must proceed with caution under the orange designation. They must cease activities for at least seven days under the red banner, which applies to teams with a 5 percent or higher positivity rate or a population positivity rate of 7.5 percent or higher.
“These last several months have been riddled with uncertainty for our student-athletes, but they have handled it with class and dignity,” Penn State Football Head Coach James Franklin said in a statement. “Our guys have remained relentless in following our COVID-19 protocols and in their preparations to be ready to play football.”
Many, including President Donald Trump and Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, lauded the decision to play.
“The Big Ten and its universities have access to the nation’s top medical professionals and others in order to develop a thoughtful and comprehensive plan that will protect the athletes, staff, students and our community,” Corman said in a statement.
“For months, local school districts, rec leagues and Penn State have demonstrated an ability to safely conduct sports activities,” Corman added. “The decision to allow these Big Ten athletes to compete is one small step to show that we can make our way back to normalcy safely.”
Written by Todd DeFeo,
The Center Square Contributor