STATE COLLEGE — According to an ESPN report, a former Penn State football player claims Nittany Lions coach James Franklin instructed him to not inform police after he pulled out a knife during a fight with another player in 2018.
ESPN obtained documents detailing the incident involving Isaiah Humphries, who is now at the University of California. Humphries earlier this year sued Penn State University and Franklin after alleging he was hazed by four teammates.
Humphries in the lawsuit alleged instances of the hazing was sexual in nature. The documents ESPN obtained and that are referenced in its recent report are part of a Title IX inquiry about Humphries’ allegations.
The university in a statement defended Franklin.
“Penn State diligently works to foster a community of safety and security for its students and student-athletes, so that they may participate freely in the academic and athletic opportunities the University offers. We’re disappointed that ESPN has chosen to rehash a series of allegations that have remained unsubstantiated despite being investigated thoroughly through the University’s established processes for responding to claims of misconduct and by the Penn State police.
“Coach Franklin never instructed Mr. Humphries to avoid contacting authorities. The court has twice rejected Mr. Humphries’ complaints, and despite his continued revisions, previously dismissed the claims against Coach Franklin in their entirety. We believe the claims relating to Coach Franklin have no merit, and we will continue to defend him vigorously.”
According to ESPN’s report — which recounts Humphries’ retelling of the incident to investigators — Humphries met with Franklin outside of the Lasch Football Building after a fight with former Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons in which Humphries pulled out a pocket knife on Parsons.
According to documents obtained by ESPN, “The investigator wrote: “Mr. Humphries added that Coach Franklin came and said, ‘Don’t talk to the police because Micah is his start [sic] player and makes money, so if he gets in trouble, he’s gone,’ meaning Mr. Humphries would be gone.”
Humphries’ January lawsuit named Parsons, former Nittany Lions players Yetur Gross-Matos and Damion Barber, and current Penn State player Jesse Luketa. According to ESPN’s report, two unnamed Penn State players shared with investigators that they saw Barber engage in “simulated sexual acts.” They denied seeing the other players named in the lawsuit engage in any such activity.