UNIVERSITY PARK -- Thousands of fans made their way to Penn State Tuesday morning to show their support for the football team.
Players begin practice for the fall season this morning.
Area businesses organized the rally as a way for students, alumni, and fans to show their support for the players, despite the sanctions handed down to the school in the wake of the Sandusky sex abuse scandal.
Last week, the NCAA punished Penn State football with a hefty fine, and a loss of scholarships.
Fans, students, and alumni began gathering outside Holuba Hall on Penn State’s Main campus as early as 4:30 a.m. and when the Rise and Rally event officially kicked off at 6 a.m., there were over 3,000 people there, including Dennis and Jane Shrive of Scranton.
“Our son is Eric Shrive. He’s a guard on the team and we came to support him and all the players because they’ve done absolutely nothing wrong and if you and you see all these people here, it’ll never fall apart. This is here forever and we’re very proud of him,” said Dennis Shrive.
With the recent NCAA penalties against the Penn State football program, players had the option to leave the school and play elsewhere, penalty-free. For some fans, this was an opportunity to thank those who chose to stay and play football for the Nittany Lions.
“We’re very proud of these young men, that they had the character and the strength and conviction to stick with this and to show everybody in the nation that the NCAA can take away a lot of things, but they can’t take away the heart and the pride in the university and the culture here,” said Jonathan Bilbow of Mountain Top.
“Just to show my support for these guys, staying with Penn State, staying with the family and I just want to come up and show them what it’s all about. They’re staying with us and we’re going to stay with them,” said Chris Kostura of Pottsville.
As the players arrived for their first morning workout of the season, for quarterback Matt McGloin the rally was overwhelming.
“It was definitely unexpected. We knew there was going to be some support here but to be honest with you, I really didn’t expect this. It just shows you that even through tough times, we still truly are one family and it was great to see,” said McGloin.
As fans left the Rise and Rally, they also left their signs of support at the Lasch football building. They wanted to remind the players that it’s not whether you get knocked down, but whether you get back up.