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Former Penn State Doctor: James Franklin Tried to Interfere with Medical Decisions on Multiple Occasions

Apr 13, 2024; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin during the second quarter of the Blue White spring game at Beaver Stadium. The White team defeated the Blue team 27-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The Penn State football program is no stranger to horrible scandals. In 2011, former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested and charged with 52 counts of sexual abuse that occurred against young boys from 1994 to 2009. Sandusky was subsequently found guilty of 45 of the counts against him and received a maximum sentence of 442 years in prison, with a minimum time served of 60 years.

Widely regarded as one of the worst scandals in college football history, Penn State was just now getting to the point where people were thinking about football when the Nittany Lions were brought up in conversation and not about the detestable things that happened in Happy Valley.

 

Unfortunately, PSU appears to be back under a microscope for horrible off-field accusations, but this time around, it involves the active head coach.

James Franklin, who has been at the helm since 2014, has an all-time record of 112-64 with the Nittany Lions and has been beloved by the vast majority of college football fans.

However, it appears that some major ethical issues could be going on again behind closed doors in University Park, Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, a former Penn State football team doctor testified in court that Franklin had a history of interfering with the decisions of the PSU football medical staff. This testimony, which belongs to Dr. Pete Seidenberg, is part of an ongoing wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Dr. Scott Lynch, who claims he was fired from his role with Penn State athletics because he refused to “allow a coach to interfere with his medical treatment and return to play decisions.”

 

However, the details in Dr. Seidenberg’s testimony that are alarming are in conjunction with one of the examples he used to describe Franklin’s interference.

According to a report from John Luciew of Penn Live, Seidenberg claims that Franklin (and former athletic director Sandy Barbour) pressured him and Dr. Lynch to medically disqualify a Penn State football player who was receiving short-term psychiatric treatment after he attempted suicide by jumping out of a window.

Had the player been disqualified, as Franklin allegedly requested, the player would’ve lost his scholarship, and, therefore, his right to treatment through the team.

Seidenberg was not allowed to repeat direct quotes from Franklin, per the report, but he did spill the details on several occasions when he perceived the Penn State head coach to be attempting to “influence medical decisions” made by team doctors.

 

Some of these examples included Franklin questioning the number of players on a practice injury report, pushing for players to be available to play before they were ready, and pressuring doctors to opt for surgery despite players choosing to take less invasive measures of treatment.

While not the focus of the trial, the claims against Franklin here are, at the very least, incredibly concerning. Player safety and well-being has been a major focus in college athletics in recent years, and if Dr. Seidenberg’s accusations against Franklin are true, there’s no way that he should continue to be in charge of a college football program.

Being in charge of dozens of college-aged men requires a certain skillset, and while there’s only a certain number of people out there who can have success at that level, having a moral compass isn’t negotiable.

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