This story has been pretty troubling from the start, and if some of the allegations that were included in former Nittany Lions defensive back Isaiah Humphries’ lawsuit against Penn State and head coach James Franklin are true…well, it wouldn’t be a great look for the program.
ESPN reported on Friday a new round of allegations from Humphries from the suit filed earlier this year, including one in which he alleges Franklin urged him not to report a fight between Humphries and star linebacker Micah Parsons — in which Humphries told a school investigator he brandished a knife — because Parsons was “his (star) player and makes money.”
Franklin has denied Humphries’ allegations. In response to the report, Penn State’s department of intercollegiate athletics strongly backed the head coach, saying, “We believe the claims relating to Coach Franklin have no merit, and we will continue to defend him vigorously.”
In the suit, Humphries — who has since transferred to the University of California — alleges that he was sexually harassed in Penn State’s locker room, specifically mentioning Parsons and former Nittany Lions defensive linemen Yetur Gross-Matos and Damion Barber.
Penn State said it investigated the allegations thoroughly. Barber was suspended for the 2019 season opener for a violation of team rules and has since transferred to Austin Peay. The report includes findings from investigators indicating Penn State players offered accounts of the goings on in the locker room that varied significantly from Humphries’ version.
Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna told ESPN his office “could not substantiate the serious allegations of sexual assault” but that the case is still open, adding “a matter like this doesn’t get closed.” He encouraged anyone with additional information to come forward.
The fight allegedly started, according to Humphries’s testimony to a school investigator, when Parsons poured water on his head while he slept in the academic center. Some of the water got on a laptop and phone, evidently angering Humphries enough to pour Gatorade on Parsons. A scuffle ensued, Parsons began choking Humphries, and Humphries pulled a pocket knife on Parsons.
Donnie Collins has been a member of The Times-Tribune sports staff for nearly 20 years and has been the Penn State football beat writer for Times-Shamrock Newspapers since 2004. The Penn State Football Blog covers Nittany Lions, Big Ten and big-time college football news from Beaver Stadium to the practice field, the bowl game to National Letter of Intent Signing Day. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5368; @DonnieCollinsTT