Parents of Penn State football players look for answers about why Big Ten canceled season

The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
Penn State

More than 80 parents of Penn State football players have signed a letter sent to the Big Ten looking for the conference to explain its decision last week to cancel the 2020 season.

The letter, sent to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and university president Eric Barron and released publicly Saturday night, also requested that the schedule be reinstated and that a Zoom meeting be set up with parents to answer questions of player eligibility.

“We want to know ... why was this decision rushed before the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA could answer some of the most basic questions regarding the futures of these student-athletes,” the letter said.

Penn State joined parents from Iowa and Ohio State in looking for answers in the wake of last Tuesday’s cancellation of the season due to the pandemic.

Franklin speaks: In another development Saturday, Penn State coach James Franklin spoke on a Twitter video – his first public comments since the cancellation – pledging to fight for whatever his players needed, and specifically recognized his seniors.

“I’ve got a responsibility to the entire program … but I also have a responsibility to these seniors, these fourth-year seniors, and specifically the fifth-year seniors, that I do everything I possibly can – and I think the entire team does – to support these guys and send them out the right way,” Franklin said.

“I give you my word as a man and I give you my word as the Penn State football coach that we’re going to do everything in our power to help you guys finish this thing out the way it should be finished out. It may not be how we imagined it to be but we’re going to finish this thing the right way.”

Citing testing: The parents’ letter cited Penn State’s latest report on testing from last Wednesday that zero players had tested positive for the coronavirus over the previous two weeks. It praised the university medical staff’s testing and contact tracing protocols designed “to ensure player safety as well as parent confidence. ...

“We believe these young men ... are being cared for both physically and mentally in a manner that cannot be replicated in their own communities,” the letter said. “Our athletes are elite not only in their performance on the field, but in their health status and medical care. ... As parents we deserve answers as to whether these decisions are based on science or the avoidance of liability.”

Parents want clarity: The letter asks for “a clear presentation of the medical information used by The Big Ten Task Force in the decision to cancel the fall 2020 season.”

“Why can’t we at least try to have a season?” it said. “The players want to play. They are concerned about the financial impact on the State College community that they call ‘home.’ We should not cancel the season out of fear, but rather look fear in the face, continue to adhere to the safety protocols in place and make the attempt at a FALL season.”