President Barron, Sandy Barbour, James Franklin Celebrate Big Ten Football’s Comeback
Penn State President Eric Barron, along with Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics and Penn State football head coach James Franklin, released statements Wednesday supporting the Big Ten’s reinstated football season.
Barron, who was one of the 14 university leaders who unanimously voted to restart the season, recognized the “extraordinary amount of effort” the Big Ten demonstrated to create a safer environment for its student-athletes.
“Our new approach is data-driven and guided by a chief infection officer to be designated by each institution,” Barron wrote on his blog. “Consistent and uniform testing will be ready for the entire Big Ten, managed by the conference, with point-of-care rapid antigen testing six to seven times a week with results ready at least four hours before every practice and game.”
Additionally, the Big Ten will implement cardiac testing for coronavirus-positive student-athletes and require those who test positive to wait at least 21 days before suiting back up.
Barron added pushing the season’s kickoff back to the weekend October 24 should help teams prepare for the challenges the coronavirus pandemic may bring.
“This date ensures that we have as full a season as possible based on the implementation of the testing strategy,” Barron wrote.
Barbour echoed Barron’s sentiments and added the Big Ten’s policy reversal is a big win for student-athletes, coaches, families, and fans.
“The opportunity to safely return to athletic competition is a positive for not only our athletics department, but our campus community and Penn State nation,” Barbour said in a statement. “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.”
Likewise, Franklin said the conference’s reinstated season means a lot to his staff and student-athletes.
“We are excited for our guys to have the opportunity to get back to action safely on the weekend of October 23-24,” Franklin wrote. “These last several months have been riddled with uncertainty for our student-athletes, but they have handled it with class and dignity.”
Franklin, who was previously outspoken regarding the conference’s lack of transparency in its initial fall sports postponement, thanked the Big Ten’s leaders for voting to reinstate the season.
“We are so appreciative of the work the Big Ten’s Return to Competition Task Force put in to give us a safe path to playing football this fall,” he wrote. “We are also thankful the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten considered the information presented and voted for the safe return to play.”
At this time, the Big Ten hasn’t released a fall football schedule. The conference also didn’t comment on how other fall sports, such as soccer and women’s volleyball, would be affected by the policy reversal. However, it said updates should be arriving “shortly.”
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According to the dashboard, 613 student cases remain active at University Park, while 1,052 are inactive.
“All those dreams can be achieved as long as we work all as one.”
Coupled with Tuesday’s dashboard update, Penn State has reported 684 new cases this week.
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