University leadership affirms commitment to health, safety as fall sports resume

In a letter to the University community, Penn State leaders affirm that health and safety is of the utmost priority as fall sports resume this semester. Steps being taking include prohibiting tailgating; working with student leaders and organizations; following masking, social distancing and other COVID-related health guidelines; and continuing to partner with local and community leadership. Credit: Stephanie Swindle / Penn StateCreative Commons

Dear faculty, staff, students, alumni and fans,

As you may have seen, the Big Ten will return to competition this fall under more stringent testing, screening and monitoring protocols for student-athletes and staff. This does include a start of the football season beginning the weekend of Oct. 24, which is being met with great enthusiasm by those who love the game. However, we understand and share concerns within our University and the State College community about the potential for students, alumni and others to gather to watch games, or to tailgate during a time of necessary social distancing.

And while we can appreciate the wish to restart social activities along with the on-field activities, we must recognize now is not the time.  We cannot take steps backward in our efforts to contain the pandemic and to keep our campuses open for in-person teaching, learning and research. More will be shared about plans and expectations prior to the first game. For now, we want to emphasize the following:

  • Penn State will absolutely not permit any tailgating in or around the stadium, or on campus.  The University plans to work closely with area law enforcement to support existing municipal ordinances that limit gatherings and require wearing a face mask. 

  • The University will continue to work actively with student organizations and the student community to abide by existing limits on gatherings and in the deterrence of game-day visits to State College by friends, alumni and others. We plan to aggressively reinforce expectations of students and student organizations, as well as other fans, and we will be active in our outreach and messaging to restrict larger watch parties in the residence halls.  

  • We also have shown, through organized movie nights, for example, that the University and its students can organize positive and fun outdoor activities that involve mask wearing and social distancing. We will be working with students to support similar experiences that abide by COVID-19 guidelines.

  • And finally, we will continue our close, cooperative planning with the Borough of State College to anticipate and manage expectations, and conformance of bars and restaurants with the municipal ordinance passed to enforce COVID-19 prevention measures, including limitations on gatherings and occupancy.  

Penn State values its partnership with our community and recognizes our focus must remain on maintaining the health and safety for residents in the region. University personnel across every level have been working tirelessly to develop and carry out plans based on the best public health information and in coordination with public health officials.

As we too are residents of this community, we will do our part in the days ahead. We are asking each of you — our students, employees, alumni and other fans — to join us in this fight by wearing face coverings, practicing good hygiene, avoiding gatherings, holding off on your tailgates, and socially distancing as recommended by infectious disease experts. Cheer from home and our collective voices will continue to bring us together.

Thank you, Nittany Nation,

Sandy Barbour, Vice President, Intercollegiate Athletics

Rich Bundy, Vice President, Development and Alumni Relations

David Gray, Senior Vice President, Finance & Business 

Damon Sims, Vice President, Student Affairs


Last Updated September 17, 2020