Jesse Luketa

Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Lawsuit by former player accuses James Franklin of ignoring hazing at Penn State

8 Comments

A former Penn State football player Isaiah Humphries has filed a federal lawsuit that accuses Penn State and head coach James Franklin ignoring hazing taking place within the program. Defensive tackle Damion Barber is also a defendant in the lawsuit.

According to claims made in the lawsuit, Humphries was the target of hazing conducted by Barber and a handful of other Penn State players. Among the players mentioned by name include linebacker defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos and linebackers Micah Parsons and Jesse Luketa. Concerns about hazing were allegedly relayed to members of the coaching staff, including directly to Franklin, but no actions were taken to combat any hazing incidents.

Among the alleged acts of hazing included references to former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky with threats of “I am going to Sandusky you” being said to underclassmen within the program. Sandusky was found guilty on 45 counts of child sex abuse in 2012. His sentence of 30 to 60 years is, effectively, a life sentence in prison. Sandusky’s actions and the way it was handled by officials at Penn State led to NCAA sanctions including a four-year postseason bowl ban, the loss of scholarships, and a $60 million fine. The NCAA withdrew the sanctions two years later amid legal pressure.

Humphries transferred to California in 2019 after coming to Penn State in the Class of 2018. Humphries claims he transferred to Cal because of the alleged behavior within the Penn State program and lack of response by Franklin and his staff. The former Penn State player also accuses the coaching staff of pacing him in specific drills the coaches knew Humphries would fail and providing negative reviews to coaches at other schools as Humphries explored his transfer options.

Penn State has responded to the news of the lawsuit with a statement (shared below) claiming police investigated the allegations and the district attorney’s office decided no charges were warranted.

The University has established processes in place for responding to claims of potential misconduct. In accordance with our processes, the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response and the Office of Student Conduct carried out investigations of the plaintiff’s claims independent from Intercollegiate Athletics. In addition, Penn State police investigated related allegations and forwarded the results of that investigation to the Office of the Centre County District Attorney (DA). The DA reviewed the case and decided that no charges would be pursued

And, for what it is worth, a number of Penn State players, both past and present, have responded to the news via Twitter.