San Jose State’s Online Fall Semester Puts Writing On Wall For Penn State Football

Update, 10:30 a.m., May 13: Penn State football’s matchup against San Jose State is still on as planned “at this time,” according to associate athletics director for strategic communications Kris Petersen.

“Penn State’s focus is on the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans in every decision made about intercollegiate athletics,” Petersen said. “Given the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, Penn State is preparing for a variety of scenarios for fall sports, all in consideration of the guidance and direction of public health authorities, the state and federal government, the Big Ten and the NCAA.”

Original Story: Now that several west coast universities have announced they’d move classes online this fall, a part of Penn State football’s 2020 schedule now has a big question mark next to it.

The California State University system stated Tuesday it would conduct the fall semester virtually in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision affects 23 universities including Fresno State, San Diego State, and, most notably for Penn State football fans, San Jose State.

As their schedule currently stands, the Nittany Lions will take on the Spartans on Saturday, September 19 at Beaver Stadium to round out their non-conference slate. However, after moving classes online, San Jose State — nor any university — may not be playing football any time soon.

According to NCAA President Mark Emmert, universities are unlikely to begin competing until students return to campuses. If his beliefs follow through, the writing could be on the wall for Penn State football.

“All of the commissioners and every president that I’ve talked to is in clear agreement: If you don’t have students on campus, you don’t have student-athletes on campus,” Emmert said. “That doesn’t mean [the university] has to be up and running in the full normal model, but you have to treat the health and well-being of the athletes as much as the regular students.

“If a school doesn’t reopen, then they’re not going to be playing sports. It’s really that simple,” he continued.

Emmert noted more and more schools will begin announcing the fates of their fall semesters in the coming weeks and that no two schools’ situations are the same.

“What does it mean if you look at a conference, for example, if a conference has some schools open and some not?” Emmert asked. “You can’t run a regular schedule if you’ve got that scenario. How do you adjust all the rules to provide as much flexibility as you possibly can to let student-athletes have a good experience in that season?”

With non-conference play up in the air, it’s possible Penn State, as well as other universities, would opt to do away with its non-conference slate and solely compete against nearby Big Ten teams. According to the Associated Press, Pac-12 coaches and administrators are already discussing limiting the upcoming season to in-conference competition.

Emmert also explained how administrators around the country have had conversations about “relaxing” regulations on the number of games played or how often opponents can play each other in the same season.

“Let’s keep our priorities in place and recognize this is going to be a very unusual school year and we just have to make the best of it,” he said.

For students to return to campus (and for student-athletes to compete), Emmert, along with NCAA chief medical officer Dr. Brian Hainline, stated coronavirus testing and tracing will need to dramatically improve.

However, despite the seemingly endless stream of bad news, Emmert noted there’s “hope” for the upcoming season. He believes a “phased” approach involving the gradual return of fans to stadiums could be possible as local, state, and federal restrictions are eased.

Only time will tell how this fall’s season plays out. Penn State will announce the fate of its fall semester by June 15 at the latest. Until then, it’s anyone’s guess how college football will look in a few months’ time.

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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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