Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour met with the media today by Zoom and answered questions about a number of topics. COVID and protocols were at the top of the list, along with other Big Ten, NCAA and PSU issues.
Here are my top seven takeaways from what Barbour discussed:
1: Penn State will NOT mandate vaccination proof or masks outdoors.
“The required vaccination is not in our plan at this point. We’ve been following the CDC, and you all know quite well as a campus as it relates to masking indoors.”
“We’re not going to require masking outdoors unless the CDC were to change its guides; we certainly would monitor and review that. But if someone feels that that’s what they want to do from a healthy and safety standpoint — wear a mask — that’s certainly is encouraged.”
Asked later for clarification, Barbour said fans at football games will not have to wear masks in their seats or on the concourse, since those are considered outdoors areas. However, if going to the restroom or inside any other enclosed part of the stadium — including suites — then that is considered indoors, and masks will be required.
As for why Penn State is not mandating proof of vaccination or other mandates, Barbour said the university board feel like it balances health and safety with personal choice.
2: Penn State is still planning to have full capacity at Beaver Stadium.
The plan is and has been for 107,000 fans to be able to attend football games.
Barbour said the university will stay up to date on all CDC and local health guidelines and can react quickly if there are changes in policy. But as of now, it remains a full go to fill the stadium.
3: What about basketball and hockey games this winter?
Those events are played indoors, and fans will have to wear masks. But no proof of vaccination will be required.
4: Will a football team have to forfeit if it can’t play because of COVID?
Yes, that will be the case in the Big Ten. Barbour said the league will revert back to its policy that if one school cannot show up for a game, then it will be a forfeit.
5: How does the Big Ten align with the Pac 12, Big 12 and ACC now that Texas and Oklahoma are joining the SEC?
Barbour gave a long and meandering answer to this question, stressing that money is indeed important, while also noting that the Big Ten schools like to align with “like-minded” universities that share academic similarities.
“It’s all about what brings value. I’m not just talking about money. Certainly money is important. But I’m not just talking about money. What institutions or what steps that we could take would bring value to our conference? And I do think that there are conferences out there that could bring value from a monetary standpoint, particularly speaking about our television contract and our television revenues. But also from the importance of to us and the Big Ten, this concept of like-minded institutions.
“I’m not trying to downplay the importance of value as it relates to upsizing our revenues. That absolutely certainly is important. But that’s not the only reason.”
6: What is Penn State’s athletic department vaccination rate?
Barbour said it is 82.2 percent. Now, that does NOT represent the number of players vaccinated on any given team. It is the overall athletic department with regards to students and Tier 1 personnel.
Penn State will not be releasing vaccination rates for any of its teams.
7: Penn State will not reveal how much money Micah Shrewsberry is making.
The school has adopted a policy where it reveals the football coach’s salary. Barbour was asked why it does not reveal the men’s basketball coach’s salary and said this:
“That’s our policy. Those are where we are from either a requirement standpoint — we’re certainly meeting our requirements. We will not be (releasing Shrewsberry’s contract). The two contracts that we have stated over and over again that we would make public are the head football coach and athletic director.”
James Franklin’s contract is worth more than $6 million a year, including all incentives.
Barbour actually took a slight pay cut last year and made about $1.1 million.
We have reported in the past that a source told us Shrewsberry is making $2 million, although there has been no confirmation of that from the school.