Mike Dulan walked down Shortlidge Road with a smile Monday.
And why not?
He had just learned the bowl ban against Penn State had been lifted by the NCAA and that the team could use all of its scholarships next year. The school, however, must continue to pay a $60 million fine, and 111 wins under Joe Paterno and one under Tom Bradley remain vacated.
“I’ve been through it all, so it’s really awesome that this finally happened,” Dulan, a senior, said.
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Word spread quickly on campus that sanctions against Penn State’s football team had been lifted.
On Monday evening, what started as a white-out rally at Old Main later spilled into downtown State College as thousands of students gathered on Beaver Avenue to chant and sing.
Gathering in “Beaver Canyon,” students filled the street, forcing police to redirect traffic.
“Honestly I’m not surprised by this,” senior Matt Conner said. “Whenever something big happens, everyone makes their way down here.”
Due to the construction along Beaver, police were later forced to remove signage and construction barrels. Earlier, students passed one barrel from balcony to balcony up the side of the Penn Tower building.
Earlier Monday, freshmen Marissa Zack and Maddie Geiser were in the HUB-Robeson Center when the news broke. Zack and Geiser said students gathered around the HUB’s televisions to listen to the news.
“People got really excited,” Zack said. “Everyone was surrounding the TV and watching to find out what happened.”
Zack, Geiser and other students reveled in the possibility that they could buy tickets to a bowl game if Penn State wins at least six games this season.
“I’ll definitely buy bowl tickets if they get into one,” Dulan said.
Some students said the lifted sanctions marked a turning point for Penn State and the community. Ben Browder, a State College Area High School graduate and sophomore at the university, said it hadn’t been easy for the community to deal with the sanctions.
“I thought the sanctions were too tough to begin with, and at first there was a lot of resentment toward the NCAA,” Browder said. “I think they had a knee-jerk reaction and tried to kind of blow our heads off with the sanctions.”
Charlene Van Buiten, a third-year graduate student, said she was recruited to Penn State’s food science graduate program when news was still breaking about the Sandusky scandal in 2011.
“People told me this wasn’t the real Penn State, that it was more than the scandal,” Van Buiten said. “I love it here. The community is really incredible, and the sheer size of the school and the way people from around the state get behind the school is amazing.”
While students are happy that most of the sanctions were lifted, some said it’s not enough.
Alec Mann, a sophomore, said the NCAA should award Penn State and Paterno the 111 wins that were vacated and the one win under Bradley.
“I think he should get the wins back, and those players and teams should get those wins back,” Mann said. “Those games happened, and they shouldn’t just be erased. They can’t be erased. It’s been a huge deal that some sanctions were lifted, but I think it’s the right thing to do to recognize those wins and games happened.”