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Sandy Barbour Addresses Penn State Community On Coronavirus Pandemic

Penn State vice president for intercollegiate athletics Sandy Barbour addressed “Nittany Nation” Wednesday afternoon with a message of comfort and support surrounding the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Penn State Athletics.

“Our week started on a high as we looked forward to NCAA Championship competition for many of our winter sport teams and our spring sport teams dispersed for packed spring break competitions,” Barbour wrote. “By the time we reached week’s end, the remainder of the year’s winter and spring sport competitions had been shuttered, leaving our students, coaches, staff and community with an unbearable void. The NCAA, Big Ten Conference and Penn State University had all taken unfortunate, but fully necessary steps to help protect all involved in college athletics across the country, and throughout each of our local communities.”

Earlier last week, the Big Ten canceled its men’s basketball tournament, setting off a domino effect that saw the NCAA’s spring and winter championships, Big Ten athletic events, and Penn State football’s upcoming Blue-White game canceled.

Barbour continued, adding that despite the unprecedented measures, the Penn State community has shown resilience in the past and that “this crisis will be no different.”

“We will continue to make decisions that provide for the best health and safety conditions for our students, faculty and staff. Our first-rate faculty have turned the switch to begin delivering classroom instruction remotely, and our coaches and support staff are working diligently to provide virtual support to our students academically, athletically, for their mental and physical health, and for continued student development.”

She acknowledged that while things are out of the ordinary right now, Penn State Athletics will be ready to “return to normalcy” in the coming months.

“When the time is right, rest assured that your Nittany Lions will be a strong and vibrant part of the return to normalcy, and a powerful platform for the resurgence of our campus and local community,” Barbour wrote. “Until then, please be well and safe and don’t hesitate to let us know how we can assist you through these challenging times.”

You can read Barbour’s full statement below.

Dear Nittany Nation,

The last week has been like no other in our history, and although its reach is far beyond sport, our Intercollegiate Athletics program and our student-athletes, coaches and staff have been dramatically impacted. Our week started on a high as we looked forward to NCAA Championship competition for many of our winter sport teams and our spring sport teams dispersed for packed spring break competitions. By the time we reached week’s end, the remainder of the year’s winter and spring sport competitions had been shuttered, leaving our students, coaches, staff and community with an unbearable void. The NCAA, Big Ten Conference and Penn State University had all taken unfortunate, but fully necessary steps to help protect all involved in college athletics across the country, and throughout each of our local communities.

The collective heartbeat of our community aches for our students and their sudden loss of opportunity to play the sports they love and to wear the blue and white with their customary pride and conviction. Time and time again, Penn Staters have demonstrated that we are a resilient lot. This crisis will be no different. We will continue to make decisions that provide for the best health and safety conditions for our students, faculty and staff. Our first-rate faculty have turned the switch to begin delivering classroom instruction remotely, and our coaches and support staff are working diligently to provide virtual support to our students academically, athletically, for their mental and physical health, and for continued student development. 

As an important part of our Penn State family, we hope that you and your loved ones are taking all precautions to stay safe and healthy during this worldwide pandemic. Together, we will begin preparing for the day our students will return to campus, our student-athletes will resume training for Penn State competitions and we will all fill our campus venues where the collective voice of the Penn State Nation will be heard again. When the time is right, rest assured that your Nittany Lions will be a strong and vibrant part of the return to normalcy, and a powerful platform for the resurgence of our campus and local community. Until then, please be well and safe and don’t hesitate to let us know how we can assist you through these challenging times. 

Best wishes, 

Sandy Barbour
Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics 

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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