A former Penn State team doctor is suing the school, football coach James Franklin and athletic director Sandy Barbour, claiming that he was ousted after complaining to school officials about being pressured to clear players to return from injuries.
The lawsuit was filed in Dauphin County on Friday by Dr. Scott Lynch, who was removed from his position as director of athletic medicine in March and replaced by Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, who previously held the position until 2013.
Lynch is seeking $50,000 in damages. Penn State Health and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where Lynch is employed, also are named as defendants.
In the lawsuit, Lynch claims Franklin attempted to interfere with the doctor's authority on "multiple and repeated occasions."
Lynch said he reported Franklin's "wrongdoing" to Barbour and associate athletic director Charmelle Green, who is also named as a defendant. Lynch claims in the lawsuit that on or about Jan. 24, Barbour and Green communicated to Dr. Kevin Black of Penn State Health that Lynch be relieved of his assignment of football team orthopedic physician and director of athletic medicine.
On Tuesday, Franklin read a statement saying the school would "vigorously defend our program" against the allegations.
"I think you guys all know yesterday Penn State Health issued a statement rejecting Dr. Lynch's claims," Franklin said. "As always, the health and well-being of our student athletes is of the utmost importance to us."
Penn State Health, in its statement Monday, said the transition was made with the "best interests of student-athletes in mind.
"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 statement said.
Lynch claims Penn State violated whistleblower laws by removing him, and Big Ten and NCAA rules by Franklin's infringing on the autonomy of the medical staff.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.