Franklin reiterates health and wellness of athletes is priority
In response to to accusations he pressured a team doctor to prematurely clear injured players, Penn State head coach James Franklin opened his press conference Tuesday by saying his players’ health is of the “utmost importance.”
Before taking questions, Franklin opened his weekly presser by glancing down at the paper in front of him. He echoed part of Penn State Health’s Monday statement on the matter involving Dr. Scott A. Lynch, the former director of athletic medicine who claims he was let go in March in retaliation for reporting Franklin.
“I think you guys all know (Monday) Penn State Health issued a statement rejecting Dr. Lynch’s claims. We’ll continue to defend our program and all its participants on this matter,” Franklin said, repeating part of the department’s statement. “As always, the health and well-being of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance to us.
“But, after that, we’ll have no further comment.”
Lynch filed a complaint in Dauphin County on Friday, but news of the lawsuit didn’t break until Monday. No specific examples were cited in the 43-page complaint but, according to the lawsuit, Lynch accused Franklin of interfering with medical management and return-to-play decisions “on multiple and repeated occasions.” When Lynch reported the behavior to others — among them AD Sandy Barbour, Senior Associate AD Charmelle Green and Athletic Integrity Monitor Robert Boland — Lynch says his recommendations were ignored and he was let go March 1.
Penn State’s athletic department referred questions to Penn State Health, which issued a statement Monday afternoon.
“In February 2019, Penn State Health administrators decided to change leadership for athletic medicine and the delivery of care for Intercollegiate Athletics,” the statement read. “This transition was completed with the best interests of student-athletes in mind, given the increasing complexity and growing demands of sports medicine, as well as health care in general.
“While we reject Dr. Lynch’s claims and will vigorously defend our program and its representatives, we remain grateful to him for his five years as director of athletic medicine for Intercollegiate Athletics and for his continued association with Penn State Health.”
Lynch served as the team’s orthopedic physician since 2013 and as the director of athletic medicine since 2014. Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, who was the team doctor prior to 2013, resumed his previous duties once Lynch was let go.
Franklin and the Nittany Lions open their 2019 season against Idaho at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Beaver Stadium.