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Former Penn State Football Physician Alleges James Franklin Interfered With Medical Team Decisions In Suit

Former Penn State Director of Athletic Medicine and orthopedic physician for Penn State football Scott Lynch is suing Penn State and several officials, claiming that head coach James Franklin interfered with medical decisions made by the team’s physicians. He’s also alleging officials retaliated when he reported the wrongdoing. The lawsuit was filed in Dauphin County Court.

The suit seeks in excess of $50,000 in damages and names six defendants: Franklin, Penn State, athletic director Sandy Barbour, associate athletic director Charmelle Green, the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Interim Dean of the Penn State College of Medicine Kevin Black.

The suit alleges that Franklin attempted to “interfere with the plaintiff’s autonomous authority to determine medical management and return-to-play decisions.”

“James Franklin created a culture and climate which at a minimum, obstructed full compliance with the aforementioned standards and rules implemented to safeguard the medical management of student-athletes,” the suit claims.

Lynch’s suit claims that his rights as a whistleblower, protected by the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law, were violated when he reported obstruction to the aforementioned officials who “retaliated” and “caused his removal from his position as team orthopedic physician and director of athletic medicine for the university.”

Lynch was appointed Director of Athletic Medicine in 2014 and left this position last March. He was succeeded by Wayne Sebastianelli, and currently serves on the faculty of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Black allegedly claimed that the reason for Lynch’s removal was: “an interest in having orthopedic contract services rendered by an orthopedic surgeon who resided in State College, PA as opposed to Hershey, PA,” which the suit calls a “false narrative.”

The suit includes several emails between Lynch and Black as well as Lynch’s employment agreements.

“I don’t feel that there are good protections in place to stop the attempts by the coaches and staff, particularly coach Franklin, to interfere with medical decisions,” reads one of the alleged communications that Lynch sent to Black, who replied by calling for a review of his concerns, in March.

When reached for comment, Penn State football directed Onward State to Penn State Health.

“In February 2019, Penn State Health administrators decided to change leadership for athletic medicine and the delivery of care for Intercollegiate Athletics. 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,” Penn State Health said in a statement. “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.”

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About the Author

Jim Davidson

Jim is a junior English and history major and the features editor for Onward State. He, like most of the Penn State undergraduate population, is from 'just outside Philadelphia,' and grew up in Spring City, Pennsylvania. He covers a variety of Penn State topics, but spends nine months of every year waiting for the start of soccer season. You can reach him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @messijim.

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