Ex-Penn State Doctor Alleges Football Coach Pressured Him to Clear Injured Players
A former Penn State football team doctor filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court on August 23, 2019, alleging that the school’s football coach, James Franklin, pressured the doctor into clearing injured players and allowing them to return to the field. Allegedly, Dr. Scott A. Lynch reported Coach Franklin’s actions to various Penn State department heads. It was after he reported those actions, though, that Dr. Lynch was removed from two positions in Penn State’s athletic department in March 2019. In his lawsuit, Lynch is seeking $50,000 in damages due to Penn State’s alleged violation of a Pennsylvania whistleblower law.
Dr. Lynch was the Penn State football team orthopedic physician in February 2013 and was later named the director of athletic medicine in August 2014. In his lawsuit, Dr. Lynch alleged that Coach Franklin “created a culture and climate which, at a minimum, obstructed full compliance with … standards and rules implemented to safeguard the medical management of student athletes.” Further, according to the lawsuit, “on multiple and repeated occasions, [Coach] Franklin attempted to interfere with the [Dr. Lynch’s] autonomous authority to determine medical management and return-to-play decisions.” However, Dr. Lynch “refused to relent to the attempts of [Coach] Franklin to influence and interfere with [Dr. Lynch’s] medical management.”
In a statement to USA Today Sports, Penn State Health reported that “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 … we remain grateful to him.”