Penn State Wrestling Among Most Vocal Opponents To NCAA Decision Against Extra Year Of Eligibility

Penn State wrestling is known for a few things: scoring lots of points, winning trophies, playing dodgeball during practice, and rarely saying anything controversial or too opinionated. Those first three pillars are fairly consistent from year to year, but when the Nittany Lions do sway from that fourth one, you know it must be about something for which they have very strong feelings.

The NCAA announced it would grant additional years of eligibility spring sport athletes due to the coronavirus pandemic on Monday — much to the chagrin of those involved in winter sports, which didn’t receive the same relief. Few have been more adamant in their opposition to this decision than the normally reserved members of Penn State wrestling’s team.

Roman Bravo-Young, who had been contending for an NCAA title at 133 lbs. before this year’s tournament was canceled, immediately tweeted out his disapproval on Monday night, calling this past season a “free year of labor.”

Bravo-Young’s teammates Aaron Brooks and Shakur Rasheed, one a true freshman and the other a sixth-year senior, shared similar messages in the coming days with long, passionate Instagram posts.

View this post on Instagram

Dear Penn State, Dear Wrestling, Yesterday I found out that winter athletes will not be granted another year. Our year was cut short due to unfortunate circumstances and the whole world is still dealing with this crisis. The cancelation is nobody’s fault, what was done had to be done. However, the NCAA got a chance to make it right and give us our year back. This is not granting us “another year” this is simply giving us our full year back that we deserve. I am very grateful for this year and the memories I have made but we all go into a year with one main goal and that is to win a National title or All American or simply compete at the NCAA tournament and give it everything we’ve got. While many people dream to have the opportunity to do those things, it was not a dream for us. It was our reality. So no I cannot accept that this is it. The NCAA thinks winter sports already had most if not all of their regular season so granting another year is not necessary. Again I am very grateful for the relationships I’ve grown & memories I have made throughout this year but what is a year of NCAA wrestling without the big show? Many of us have been picturing our hands getting raised in the NCAA tournament but the NCAA chose to not give us that. We were blessed to be able to do what most people dream to do, what we dreamt to do as kids or even a year ago. Again whether it’s to be a National Champion, All American, or simply compete in the NCAA tournament,that was our reality. We no longer had to dream, it was about to come true. This global crisis hit and that canceled it but that shouldn’t be the end of the 2020 seniors story. The NCAA has the ability to let us continue that story, to give us our reality back. Right now they’re choosing not to. I love this sport and I was truly starting to express that as the year was ending, all I want along with many other seniors is to have our last scrap at the big show and simply our right goodbye. I think we’ve deserved it. So let’s do something about this, if everyone in the wrestling world comes together we could sway the NCAA’s decision to do the right thing. Every wrestler, wrestling fan, wrestling platform. Let’s do it.

A post shared by Shakur Rasheed (@officialsugashak) on

All three shared the link to a petition with more than 3,200 signatures at the time of writing, requesting winter sport athletes be given their semester back in order to have another chance at a title and comparing the times to World War II when college sports were also suspended and athletes were later welcomed back.

In addition to the wrestlers’ efforts to rally a change, head coach Cael Sanderson broke a Twitter silence that had lasted more than 18 months to share his own disapproval. Sanderson directed the NCAA to do “the right thing” and then even got into exchanges with followers in his mentions — at one point, calling one a dummy (That tweet has since been deleted).

His argument seemed to focus on instituting a blanket waiver across sports and giving each school both the responsibility and flexibility to make it work.

To no one’s surprise, once Sanderson remembered Clash of Clans isn’t the only app on his phone and opened Twitter for the first time since David Taylor’s World title, the college wrestling world took notice and sat in awe, as it was Ames, Iowa in the early 2000s.

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About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci was once Onward State’s managing editor and preferred walk-on honors student who majored in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. If you want to hear the story or are bored and want to share prequel memes, follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter or email him at [email protected]. All other requests and complaints should be directed to Onward State media contact emeritus Steve Connelly.

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