Lawsuit: Penn State coach tried to interfere with return-to-play decisions on student athletes


A former doctor responsible for the care of Penn State football players is suing, among others, Penn State University Head Football Coach James Franklin.

The lawsuit says the doctor, Scott Lynch, was removed from posts that he held because he reported alleged attempts by Franklin to interfere in return-to-play decisions regarding student athletes.

Lynch worked for the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center providing clinical orthopedic services.

The medical center is responsible for providing qualified primary, orthopedic and physical therapy/ athletic training services to Penn State University student-athletes. Lynch was responsible for making diagnostic, therapeutic, and return-to-play decisions regarding student athletes.

The suit alleges Franklin "created a culture and climate which, at a minimum, obstructed full compliance with" standards and rules intended to "safeguard the medical management of student-athletes."

James repeatedly tried to interfere with Lynch's authority to determine medical management and return-to-play decisions related to student athletes, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit says Lynch did not relent to Franklin's alleged attempts to interfere with return-to-play decisions.

The lawsuit said Lynch reported the alleged actions to the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Lynch reported the alleged actions to Penn State University Athletic Integrity Officer Robert Boland, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics and Athletic Director Sandy Barbour and Senior Associate Athletic Director Charmelle Green.

The suit said Barbour and Green told to Lynch's supervisor Kevin Black to relieve Lynch from his jobs as the Intercollegiate Athletics Team Orthopedic Physician for the Penn State University Football Team and Director of Athletic Medicine for Penn State University.

The suit said the demand for him to be relieved was because he reported Franklin's alleged attempts to interfere with return-to-play decisions. He was removed because university representatives wanted to avoid scandal, the lawsuit said.

Black removed Lynch from his posts effective March 1, 2019, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said Lynch had provided a written list of recommendations regarding medical care for intercollegiate athletes, but the recommendations were not supported.

The lawsuit said the university, Green, Barbour, Franklin, Penn State Health, the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Black all helped create a false narrative that the decision to remove him was due to wanting orthopedic contract services performed by somebody living in State College, rather than Hershey.

Penn State Health issued 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.