UNIVERSITY PARK — Loud groans echoed through the HUB-Robeson Center lounge Monday as NCAA President Mark Emmert announced each sanction against Penn State.
But when he said the program would vacate all wins from 1998-2011, only shocked gasps could be heard.
Penn State freshman Gabby Collo, of Bellefonte, watched Emmert’s conference on the HUB’s large TV with more than 100 people. She said the sanctions are unfair to the current players.
“It’s devastating,” Collo said. “They are getting penalized for something that happened when they were 5 and 6 years old.”
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Collo was among the Penn State students stunned and frustrated by the NCAA’s bombshell.
Other penalties included a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban and a loss of scholarships.
Walking in downtown State College, sophomore Harrison Wostein, of Pittsburgh, said the problem with the penalties laid out by the NCAA is that they don’t punish the correct people and hurt the wrong ones.
“I’m shocked by how many innocent people will be affected,” he said.
Wostein said he hopes the younger students and prospective students can keep a good image of Penn State in their minds, and that this doesn’t define their college careers.
State College resident Robert Merrell also described the sanctions as “stunning,” saying he was shocked the fine against the university was so large.
Though many of the penalties were warranted, he said, the result is worse than the so-called “death penalty” would have been for the football program.
“The Pennsylvania State University has been permanently damaged,” Merrell said, adding that it is going to be a long time before the community can recover and the university can begin to regain its image.
Beth Zani, who works at a local bank after graduating from Penn State last spring, fears NCAA officials are punishing the wrong people and could increase tuition for students.
“They’re saying they’re punishing administrators, but they’re not — they’re punishing college students and football players,” Zani said.
Back in the HUB, Collo said she believes “98 percent of the world hates Penn State” right now and the university will need to work to rebuild its image and attempt to move forward and heal from the scandal and the sanctions.
Sophomore Laura Lovins, of State College, has lived in the area for 12 years and said she has seen the impact of Penn State football firsthand.
Lovins said the penalties are “premature” and that time would bring out more facts.
But the Penn State community needs to band together and move on, said Lovins, who sat with the crowd gathered around the large TV in the HUB to listen to the NCAA announcement.
“We need to come together as a student body and unite as one,” she said. “We are bigger than this.”
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan. Reporter Mike Dawson contributed to this report.