'We're All in Limbo'

Dianne Freiermuth, president of the Penn State Football Parents Association, said the Big Ten's decision is understandable but leaves questions.
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Penn State football players and coaches are not only disappointed but also in "limbo" as they await word on what happens next, the mother of one player said.

Dianne Freiermuth, whose son Pat is an All-American tight end, said Wednesday that she understood the Big Ten's decision to postpone the 2020 fall sports season. But, like other parents, she had hoped the conference might at least delay the move to provide more guidance on the players' next steps.

"I would never question the medical experts' decisions or the decisions of college presidents. If this is where it needs to go, then I believe that," Freiermuth said. "But it just seemed like the timeline was crazy. The athletes, coaches, parents, we'll all in limbo, because there are so many questions that haven't been answered yet. I just wish that maybe [the Big Ten] had paused it until they could answer questions for the athletes and the coaches."

Penn State coach James Franklin met with parents on a video call after the Big Ten announcement. Earlier Tuesday, Franklin had called on the Big Ten to delay the decision "rather than just calling it quits."

Franklin said on ESPN's "Get Up" that players and their families needed more information regarding eligibility, roster sizes and future playing opportunities. Franklin also suggested that a spring season would be possible.

Freiermuth praised Penn State's coaching staff for the way it has addressed these issues with limited information. The NCAA established an Aug. 14 deadline for its divisions to determine eligibility options for athletes who opt or whose seasons are cut short because of COVID-19.

"So on top of being sad that their season's not going to happen, they just have a lot of questions," Freiermuth said. "And coach Franklin, I know he feels awful that he can't give the answers. He's a great leader and he loves to be able to help the athletes and their families to make the right decisions."

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth

Freiermuth, president of the Penn State Football Parents Association, recently wrote a letter supporting the program's efforts to play a fall season. In the letter, Freiermuth wrote, "I truly believe that these young men are being cared for both physically and mentally in a manner that could not be replicated in their own homes."

Penn State, which has tested athletes regularly since early June, on Wednesday reported no new cases of COVID-19 among athletes since its last release July 29. Penn State has reported eight cases of COVID-19 among athletes. The department said it has conducted 560 tests since athletes returned to campus.

"Penn State’s been fantastic," Freiermuth said. "The communication has been great. Truthfully, with Patrick there, we felt as though he was safe. He was being well taken care of, physically, mentally, the whole thing."

Freiermuth said she and her husband John haven't missed a game at Beaver Stadium in two years and aren't quite sure what to do without one this fall. "I don't remember how to apple-pick," she said.

Freiermuth also wanted to convey a message.

"For the players, this is so emotional for them," she said. "It's heartbreaking. They really do put their heart and soul into it, because they want to represent the university well. So I hope, when the fans can come back to Beaver Stadium, they're back louder than ever."

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