Former orthopedic physician for Penn State football team claims James Franklin pressured him to clear players from injury in lawsuit

DAUPHIN COUNTY -- A former Penn State team doctor has filed a lawsuit against the university and football coach James Franklin, alleging he was pressured to clear injured players to return to the field.

Dr. Scott A. Lynch says Franklin attempted to influence his decisions about whether the injured players were fit to play, according to the lawsuit. Lynch claims that when he complained about Franklin's alleged interference, Penn State officials removed him from his two positions with the university.

Lynch was removed from his position as Director of Athletic Medicine for the university and as orthopedic physician for the football team in March. He claims the university violated his rights as a whistleblower.

The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages from the university. In addition to Franklin, the lawsuit names the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour, senior associate athletic director Charmelle Green, and Penn State orthopedics and rehabilitation chair Dr. Kevin P. Black as defendants.

The Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center provides medical services for the university's athletes. Lynch remains employed there.

In the lawsuit, Lynch claims Franklin attempted to influence decisions on when players could return from injury "on multiple and repeated occasions." The lawsuit does not cite and specific examples or incidents where Franklin attempted to sway an athlete's medical care.

Lynch claims he resisted Franklin's alleged interference, which he says endangered the health of Penn State players. He says he was ousted as a direct result of his complaints about Franklin to university officials.

Penn State Health issued the following statement regarding 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."

The lawsuit was filed in Dauphin County Court by Philadelphia attorney Steven F. Marino.

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