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Notebook (12-11): Pitt won’t play in bowl game

Welcome to our daily Nittany Notebook. This post will be updated frequently throughout the day with news, notes and sometimes entertaining info. So be sure to check back often to stay on top of everything that’s going on with Penn State football and athletics, plus other sports of interest in central PA.

Update: 6:12 p.m.

**This one is interesting. The Panthers finished strong, winning three of four, including last night’s 34-20 victory at Georgia Tech.

Some around here — including us at Nittany Sports Now — were hoping for a potential Penn State-Pitt matchup in a bowl game somewhere. That seemed like a reasonable possibility.

Oh well.

Here’s the statement from Pitt:

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh football program will not participate in a bowl game this season, Director of Athletics Heather Lyke and Head Coach Pat Narduzzi announced on Friday.

The decision to decline a bowl invitation was made by the team and fully supported by the university. The Panthers won three of their final four contests to finish 6-5 and were projected as a participant in one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s affiliated bowls.

“Our football student-athletes’ sacrifice and commitment have been extraordinary,” Lyke said. “This season has been an especially taxing experience, physically and mentally, on and off the field. Despite this unprecedented environment, our team finished strong concluding with last night’s win at Georgia Tech. We are thankful and proud of how they handled the past six months and want them to have a well-deserved restful holiday season with their families and loved ones.”

“In my three decades as a coach, I’ve never been around a group of players who have faced greater challenges beyond the field than our team this year,” Narduzzi said. “And yet, from the time they arrived back on campus in early June, these young men never wavered—not in the face of rigorous health protocols, multiple rounds of COVID testing each week or while handling the mental and physical challenges of playing 11 games in a pandemic.

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“I’ve always been proud to be Pitt’s head football coach,” Narduzzi concluded. “That pride was especially great in working with this 2020 team. They have my eternal gratitude and respect.”

Update: 10:10 a.m.

**Penn State will celebrate senior day Saturday against Michigan State, but no spectators will be allowed for that game or any other upcoming PSU contests because of new statewide COVID safety protocols. Penn State sent out this release this morning:

Statement from Penn State Athletics:

As has been the case throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of our student-athletes and staff has been our top priority. We follow the state and university health guidelines, which continue to evolve based on the changing conditions. As such, we will not be permitted to host spectators at our athletic competitions beginning Saturday, Dec. 12.

We are extremely disappointed for our football seniors, their parents and their families. They have been looking forward to their Senior Day and making arrangements to attend Saturday’s game, so this timing has proven difficult for all parties. However, we understand the gravity of the pandemic and know this decision was made with the health and safety of our communities at the forefront.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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