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Saquon Barkley Defends James Franklin Amid Lawsuit Filed By Former Penn State Doctor

Former Penn State football star Saquon Barkley has joined some of his former college teammates and their families in defending head coach James Franklin, who’s the defendant in a lawsuit filed by former team doctor Dr. Scott Lynch.

“Coach Franklin’s been nothing but a role model and mentor to me,” Barkley said, according to Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. “I feel like he’s part of my family.”

Barkley shared a story from his first year at Penn State in which he was banged up and wanted to return to action. The then-true freshman hurt his ankle in week 4 of the 2015 season, and naturally, he was itching to get back on the field as soon as possible. However, Barkley said that Franklin urged him to take his time and recover properly.

“James Franklin was awesome for me. I tried to force [returning to game action] and he just wouldn’t allow me force it,” Barkley recalled, according to NJ.com. “I sat out the next two weeks and was able to come out and be healthy the rest of the season.”

This story is similar to the one shared by Austyn Carta Samuels, who was Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback during Franklin’s final season in charge of the team. Samuels tore his ACL, but he was cleared to play after three weeks. Franklin didn’t want him to rush back into the lineup, so he held him out of the Commodores’ week 10 contest against Florida.

Though they didn’t share any specific stories, the mothers of Shane Simmons and Jason Cabinda also spoke out in Franklin’s defense after reports of the lawsuit came out. Cabinda himself also called Dr. Lynch’s allegations “complete and total BS.”

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

Penn State Health released a statement in response to the lawsuit:

“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

Franklin himself came out and reiterated Penn State Health’s statement on the matter at his pre-Idaho press conference on Tuesday, and he added that the players’ well-being is 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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