Professor Starts Petition Against the James Franklin Hire

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While many people have expressed excitement over the imminent James Franklin hire, at least one Penn State College of Communications professor (and 117 other people, as of publishing time) is not happy with it.

Michelle Rodino-Colocino, an Associate Professor of Film, Video, and Media Studies, called the hiring “appalling” in a petition addressed to the search committee. Rodino-Colocino cites the incident at Vanderbilt last summer in which four players are charged with raping an unconscious woman, and a fifth already pleaded guilty to help cover it up. While the players were immediately kicked off the team, a Buzzfeed article from September alleges that Franklin instructed a player to delete footage of the incident from his phone — a claim Franklin denies.

“Coach Franklin denies that emphatically,” said Hal Hardin, Franklin’s attorney. “People always speculate and gossip. There is no truth to that accusation whatsoever. It’s inflammatory.”

The District Attorney also cleared Franklin of any wrongdoing.

“There’s been allegations about Coach Franklin,” Nashville Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman said at the time. “We just wanted to state clearly that there’s no evidence whatsoever where Coach Franklin was involved in any way in the cover-up or has done anything inappropriate.”

We will address this incident more in-depth in an upcoming post, but that is the basic version of the story as we know it. Rodino-Colocino, however, is apparently not so confident in what the District Attorney says.

“We at Penn State do not want a football coach who has allegedly covered up his players’ gang rape of another student at Vanderbilt,” Rodino-Colocino writes. “Our university needs to stand up for human rights.”

The petition reads as follows:

We find it appalling that, if reports are true, you are considering naming Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin as our new head football coach here at Penn State. Are you aware that his players are being investigated for gang raping another Vanderbilt student this past June and that James Franklin is suspected of covering up the attacks? Just google “James Franklin” and “rape” and see for yourselves. When you do that search you will find major news outlets including CBS and USA Today coming out and opposing Franklin because of his alleged involvement in these rape cases. USC passed on Franklin because of these allegations. It hardly needs saying that Penn State does not need a football coach on staff who covers up rape. Nor do we need one who is alleged of a cover up. Right?

Do the right thing. Do not hire James Franklin.

While it may be too late — reports are saying that contract negotiations are in their final stages and it should be approved tomorrow morning by a special Board of Trustees compensation committee — here’s the petition if you’re interested.

Personally, I’m willing to give Franklin the benefit of the doubt if the District Attorney has cleared him, and I have little doubt that Penn State intensely vetted him. But, we’ll save that for another post.

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About Author

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014, and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is a director of the Nittany Valley Society 501(c)(3) and is involved in student government.

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