News & Notes From Sandy Barbour’s End Of Fiscal Year Press Conference
Penn State vice president for intercollegiate athletics Sandy Barbour met with the media via Zoom on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the current state of Penn State Athletics amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Barbour opened the press conference with a mask on her face to emphasize the importance of wearing one. She mentioned that she’s “proud” of Penn State’s student-athletes and coaches for how they’ve adopted wearing a mask and taking other safety precautions.
The athletic director spoke on several different topics, which include fiscal year statistics, coronavirus testing, and what Beaver Stadium may look like in the fall. She also talked about potential pay adjustments for members of Penn State Athletics.
Here are some of the highlights from Barbour’s virtual press conference.
On Fiscal Year Statistics
July 1 marks the end of the fiscal year for Penn State Athletics. With this in mind, Barbour described the year as a challenge with many winter and spring sports getting “truncated,” but went on to call it a “really good year.”
“In the fall our women’s soccer team won the Big Ten Tournament title,” Barbour said. “Football went to its third New Year’s Six bowl game in the last four years. Men’s soccer went to the NCAA’s for the first time in five years.”
Barbour continued on, speaking about academics. She’s impressed with the direction that Penn State’s student-athletes are headed.
“From an APR (Academic Progress Rate) standpoint, 986 for the department, which is three points above the national average,” Barbour explained. “We need to continue to get better there, but we had a record 20 teams that had perfect single-year APRs, including football with its first 1,000, which is a perfect score. Its first 1,000 single-year score in our history.”
She went on to mention that Penn State set a school record with 144 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars.
On Coronavirus Testing
Barbour announced that 102 Penn State student-athletes have been tested for the coronavirus and zero of the tests have come back positive. Athletics will release a testing report every other Wednesday with the results of the tests being disclosed.
“Today I can tell you that we’ve had 102 student-athlete tests as of June 30, and we have had zero positives in those 102 tests,” Barbour said.
Penn State Athletics has not required its student-athletes to sign a liability waiver. Barbour said that they have something called their “one team pledge.”
“We do have something that we are calling our one team pledge that all of our student-athletes and eventually staff will sign,” she said. “That is a reiteration of all the educational stuff, all of the protocols, and frankly an acknowledgement of the importance to themselves, their teammates, others, their coaches. How important following these protocols are and that they pledge to follow them.”
When it comes to frequency of testing, Barbour said that all student-athletes and staff will be tested upon arrival and then again if any symptoms are shown.
Later in the call Barbour mentioned Athletics won’t be reporting the test results of coaches, but the university will make the community aware if any coaches or another personnel members test positive for the coronavirus.
“Certainly as a university and accounting, our community will absolutely be aware of any positives that exist in their community,” she said.
On Beaver Stadium And What It Will Look Like In The Fall
It doesn’t look like we’re going to see #107KStrong at Beaver Stadium this year, folks.
Barbour confirmed what many people have long speculated, explaining that Beaver Stadium will almost certainly not be at full capacity this fall.
The athletic director explained that there was roughly a 95% renewal rate of season tickets, with an additional 3,000 season tickets being sold. Due to that number being so high, the reality is that if you don’t have a season ticket, you’re probably not going to a Penn State football game this year.
“Without a season ticket, no matter what our capacity is, you’re probably not coming to a Penn State game this year,” Barbour said with “certainty.”
Barbour also talked about the recent pessimism surrounding the 2020 college football season. She explained that there have been several different plans discussed for how to go about this, but at the end of the day it comes down to the health of the students.
“When the time comes, if it’s healthy and safe to do it, we’ll obviously do it,” Barbour said. “If its not, then we won’t.”
On Fall Sports And Teams Canceling Games
Barbour discussed the possibility of opposing teams canceling games. She said that in some sports, not including football, teams have already reached out to notify Penn State that they won’t be playing against the Nittany Lions this fall.
She could see a scenario in which Penn State is able to replace a team that is on its schedule, but that would have to be a more regional effort.
“We have a spreadsheet about who’s playing, when, where, and how, and I certainly think we could take a look at that and particularly if something were to get dropped that is more regional, we could certainly look at doing that [replacing the team],” Barbour explained.
Barbour emphasized the health of student-athletes multiple times throughout the call. Barbour and Athletics will not go forward with anything if it will jeopardize the health and well-being of the student-athletes.
“I’ll be very honest. At this point we just want to make sure that we can get as many games as are safe and healthy,” she said. “Again, it its not the right thing to do, most importantly for our students, we’re just not doing it.”
On Potential Pay Adjustments Within Penn State Athletics
Barbour said that with the exception of some part-time workers, Penn State Athletics has yet to furlough any employees. Additionally, Barbour has held off on asking coaches and other employees to take pay cuts. While she’s been able to hold off from this for awhile, Barbour mentioned that “the time is coming.”
“We probably need to do that,” Barbour explained. “We’ll do that within the next few weeks. As it relates to avoiding it, as you can imagine as we look at reduced crowds in Beaver Stadium, reduced crowds in Pegula and the BJC, Rec Hall, and others of our venues, that we are looking at significant reductions in terms of those revenues.”
“Given the severity of what we anticipate might be coming, pay reductions are probably unavoidable,” Barbour continued.
Barbour did mention that they are looking at lot of different “operational ways” to make up for that lost revenue and reduce their costs.
On Racial Injustice And Response From Student-Athletes
Barbour touched on the latest racial issues to take place in the United States. She encouraged student-athletes to to speak up for what they believe in and to “find their voice.”
“I stand up in front of each and every one of our teams at the beginning of every year and tell our students that this is the time for them to find their voices,” Barbour explained. “I want them to find and use their voices and I will 100% support them even if I don’t agree, and again I’m talking generally here.”
Barbour continued, saying that she supports the student-athletes as long as they’re respectful, informed, and that they make sure their coach knows what they’re doing.
“I’ve been doing that as an athletic director for 24 years,” she said. “This time is no different. I am really proud of the way our student-athletes have used their voices here in the last month. That will not change. As a part of our role as educators and leaders is to facilitate conversations, not dictate them.”
“These are conversations that our coaches and our administrators to some degree, are going to have a team-by-team basis,” she continued. “Yes, it is an individual voice, but if you are going to use the Penn State platform, if you’re going to use the team platform, then it involves the team.”
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The agreement asks students to ultimately accept liability of potentially contracting the coronavirus on campus.
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