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Final answer? Penn State corrects silly mistake by adding another ‘final’ spring practice

Beaver Stadium -- David Hague

When does something “final” turn out to be not final? When someone figures out they made a mistake and decides to try again.

Penn State blew it one month ago when it announced that the football team’s “final” spring practice at Beaver Stadium would allow only first-year students at the University Park campus to attend.

Backlash was swift, and widespread.

Why would the school allow freshmen and NOT seniors? It was a slap in the face to the students who had been around and supported the football team longer, the critics claimed.

And the critics were right.

Whatever went into their thinking with the original decision, the folks at Penn State found out very quickly that they had made a mistake — because of all the criticism.

But hey, everybody makes mistakes. The big thing is correcting the mistake whenever possible, and Penn State corrected its mistake Friday.

Tomorrow’s so-called “final” spring practice won’t be the final one, after all. Because next Friday, April 23, there will be ANOTHER final spring practice, and this time only seniors will be allowed to attend. PSU is calling this new one a “special spring football practice.”

“This is an important moment for our seniors and we had intended to extend the opportunity for them to attend the April 17 spring practice, but we were unable due to community health concerns when cases started to rise,” Penn State President Eric Barron said in a university release. “However, the practices were extended and as health conditions have stabilized, we are thankful to make this shift in programming so that seniors can showcase their Penn State spirit and participate in this longstanding tradition.”

Barron’s comments make sense from a practical standpoint, if in fact the school did intend to also invite seniors to tomorrow’s initial final spring practice. But the decision-making process broke down and lacked common sense, however, once it came to only being able to invite a certain number of students and the university deciding that freshmen should get preference over seniors.

That was a bad call. And now Penn State has done a good thing by trying to correct it.

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“We are excited to be able to welcome our seniors for this special spring practice and give them a chance to connect with Penn State Football in Beaver Stadium before graduation,” AD Sandy Barbour said in the university statement. “The seniors have exhibited such resilience over the last year, as has the rest of our campus community, and we are so proud of everything they have accomplished during their time at Penn State.”

The football team only gets 15 practices during the spring, and James Franklin is meticulous when it comes to planning out every little aspect. So this plan must have been in the works for a little while, with the Nittany Lions likely skipping a practice at some point so they’d have one more left next week.

This isn’t the biggest deal in the world, of course, and in the end, both freshmen and seniors will be treated to a special football event in Beaver Stadium.

You just have to scratch your head, though, and wonder why Penn State made such an ill-conceived decision in the first place by pushing seniors aside in favor of freshmen.

For more information on PSU’s new final spring practice and how seniors can attend, click here for the university’s press release.

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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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