Former Penn State Doctor Testifies That Head Football Coach James Franklin Meddled in Team’s Medical Decisions, Pushed to Cut Player Who Attempted Suicide

By Chase Brown on May 22, 2024 at 11:32 am
James Franklin

CW: This article addresses topics like suicide and self-harm.

A second former Penn State doctor has testified that James Franklin meddled in the team's medical decisions amid his tenure as the program's head coach.

According to John Luciew of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dr. Pete Seidenberg, who served as Penn State's primary care physician at the start of Franklin's tenure, testified Tuesday in a trial involving Dr. Scott Lynch's lawsuit against Franklin and the school administrators. Lynch served as Penn State's director of athletic medicine and orthopedic consultant to the football team before he was fired from both roles in March 2019.

In his testimony, Seidenberg described an instance when Franklin and then-Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour wanted an unnamed player who attempted suicide to be medically disqualified from the team while he received treatment in short-term psychiatric care. The disqualification would have caused the player to lose his scholarship, allowing Franklin to offer that spot to another player the following offseason. Seidenberg and Lynch declined to comply with Franklin and Barbour's request.

Seidenberg then detailed "numerous meetings in which he said Franklin pressured him, Lynch, and the chief athletic trainer to alter their medical decisions and the treatment advice and options given to players," Luciew wrote. After he explained those instances, Seidenberg repeatedly said Franklin's actions were an “attempt to influence medical decisions."

According to Luciew, Lynch's lawsuit states he was fired because he refused to "allow a coach to interfere with his medical treatment and return-to-play decisions." Lynch reported Franklin's actions to the Penn State athletic department and Penn State Health, including his immediate supervisor David Black, whom Lynch named as one of the aforementioned administrators in his lawsuit. 

Lynch, a national champion wrestler for Penn State in 1984, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in the lawsuit.

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