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Current, Former Players Defend James Franklin Amid Lawsuit

Several players who currently or used to play under the direction of Penn State football head coach James Franklin have come to his defense amid Dr. Scott Lynch’s lawsuit against Franklin and the university.

Jen Simmons — the mother of Penn State defensive end Shane Simmons — called Lynch’s allegations “absolute and total BS!!!” on Twitter. Shane made just four appearances for Penn State last year as he battled an undisclosed injury suffered during training camp.

“As a parent of a son with an injury, [Franklin] and the entire staff have been nothing but supportive of our players and have their best interest at heart,” Simmons’ mother said. “None of this is true.”

Additionally, two of Franklin’s former players backed their former head coach. Jason Cabinda was a Penn State linebacker from 2014-2017, and he also said Lynch’s allegations were “complete and total BS.”

Cabinda’s mother, Natalie, also chimed in on Twitter, saying that Franklin “treats [his players] like his sons.”

Austyn Carta Samuels was Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback during the 2013 season — Franklin’s last at the helm of the Commodores’ football program. According to a story he shared on Twitter, Samuels tore his ACL and was cleared to play three weeks later, but Franklin held him out because he didn’t want him to rush back into action.

Dr. Scott Lynch was Penn State’s Director of Athletic Medicine from 2014-2019, and he claimed that Franklin tried to “interfere with the plaintiff’s autonomous authority to determine medical management and return-to-play decisions.” He also alleges that Penn State’s head coach “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.”

You can read Penn State Health’s full statement in response to the matter below:

“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. 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.”

Penn State Health

On Tuesday, the head coach himself came out and reiterated Penn State Health’s statement on the matter, and he added that his players’ well-being is always his top priority.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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