STATE COLLEGE – During his first weekly press conference of the season Tuesday, Penn State head coach James Franklin repeated a statement issued from Penn State Health administrators about a lawsuit filed alleging the coach try to pressure doctors to clear players to return to the field.
Franklin started his press conference with a statement about the suit, filed by former team physician Scott A. Lynch on Friday.
"Penn State Health issued a statement rejecting Dr. Lynch's claims," Franklin said. "We will continue to vigorously defend our program and all its participants in this matter. As always, the health and well-being of our student athletes is of the utmost importance to us. We will continuously defend our program. We will not have any further comment."
Earlier Tuesday, former Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda turned to social media to voice his displeasure with the lawsuit.
Cabinda, who currently plays for the Oakland Raiders, tweeted, “Lemme go ahead and save y’all the time of speculating.... this is complete and total BS straight up.”
Cabinda played linebacker for Franklin at Penn State from 2014-2017. He suffered an injury in Penn State's 2016 season opener that caused him to miss five games but he returned in Week 7 against Ohio State. Cabinda tallied 286 tackles, six sacks and one interception throughout his college career.
Cabinda wasn't the only former player of Franklin's to give his opinion on the matter. Former Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta Samuels also used Twitter to share a personal injury experience that occurred with him when Franklin was head coach at Vanderbilt. Franklin coached at Vanderbilt from 2011-13.
"I was James Franklin's QB in 2013 & tore my ACL in Game 7," Samuels' tweet read. "I wanted to play on it. 3 wks later I was cleared by doctors to play at Florida... Franklin thought I was rushing it & chose to protect me & told me I'd start vs. Kentucky the next week. Be better."
Lynch, a Mifflinburg native and former Penn State wrestler, filed the lawsuit Friday in Dauphin County and is seeking more than $50,000 in damages with claims Franklin pressured him to clear injured players to take the field. The suit alleges Lynch was removed from the post after he voiced his concerns with Franklin’s suggestions to Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour, Penn State athletic integrity officer Robert Boland, Penn State senior associate athletic director Charmelle Green and Penn State chair for orthopedics and rehabilitation.
The suit does not mention any specific instances of Franklin influencing a player's return to the field.
Penn State Health released the following statement on Monday afternoon in response to Lynch's 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.”
Lynch is represented by Steven F. Marino of Marino Associates. Calls to Marino late Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning were not returned.