Franklin Headlines First Stop of Coaches Caravan

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James Franklin spoke before the start of the annual 17-stop Penn State Coaches Caravan on Thursday afternoon in the Pegula Ice Arena, offering similar comments to Tuesday’s about his involvement in speaking with a reported rape victim.

Reports surfaced Tuesday that Franklin contacted a female who reported she was raped by four Vanderbilt football players while Franklin was the coach. Some attorneys have defended Franklin, suggesting he was not involved in any form of a cover-up.

“I cooperated fully with the authorities,” he said. “This was investigated thoroughly. This is a legal matter, though. That’s about all I can say.”

He acknowledged that he held a meeting with his team to brief players on the matter Wednesday, but couldn’t comment further.

Franklin then highlighted his vision for his upcoming tenure as head coach. He began by addressing the success of spring practices — Franklin said that he’s in the process of meeting for 25 minutes with each of his players before the season begins.

“We didn’t recruit a lot of these guys, so it’s been great to get to know them,” he said. “I think the guys are at a really good place right now. They’re excited about the future, they’re excited about the program.”

Franklin also said that he receives text message updates each night from his coaches, who are on the recruiting trail.

Academically, Franklin revealed this his plan was to have players graduate in three and a half years, an ambitious goal for a team that has consistently excelled in the classroom. That way, graduates can either train for the combine, or begin work toward a graduate degree while on scholarship.

“That’s a foregone conclusion,” he said. “You’re going to graduate from Penn State.”

Franklin — who was joined by women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose and men’s soccer coach Bob Warming at the press conference — voiced the necessary platitudes to show his excitement for the upcoming trip, despite its awkward timing in preparation for the next season.

“I wasn’t doing handsprings [when I first heard about the caravan],” he said. “It will be great to be on the bus with some of the other coaches.”

Warming, who was a member of Franklin’s hiring committee, also articulated his anticipation for the event, and praised the new face of Penn State football.

“Sometimes, it’s not what you see or what someone says about themselves in an interview process, but it’s about what other people say,” he said. “Everybody that I talked to said incredible things about Franklin.”

The Coaches Caravan concludes on May 22 in Erie. Five of the 17 stops are already sold out.

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Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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