Penn State Football: Sports Illustrated to Raise Concern over Medical Care

Kevin McGuire@KevinOnCFBAnalyst IIMay 15, 2013

Nov 17, 2012; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Michael Mauti (42) is taken off the field after being injured during the first quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Beaver Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Sports Illustrated is expected to release a story Wednesday examining alleged shortcomings of Penn State's medical care to football players.

Teasing the story on the cover of this week's issue with the line "Do athletics still have too much power at Penn State?" Sports Illustrated's special report authored by David Epstein takes aim at how Penn State has treated players over the past year with information provided by a sampling of players and family members.

"To characterize the medical care Penn State provides our student-athletes as anything other than the highest quality is erroneous," a statement released by the university read. "Access to urgent and quality care for our athletes is no less than where it was at any point in the past 20 years."

Penn State goes on to claim they provided Sports Illustrated with all of the information available in an effort to prove the support provided for players who need medical care is a top priority.

"We provided Sports Illustrated with facts and data that demonstrate our commitment to our student-athletes and how we compare to other peer institutions. Instead, the article sensationalizes in order to insinuate lower standards and largely ignores statements from the dean of the College of Medicine."

Much of the information in the story is reportedly harsh on Penn State Athletic Director David Joyner and Director of Athletic Training Tim Bream.

Penn State made a change at Director of Athletic Training by having Bream replace longtime team physician Wayne Sebastianelli just days after Joyner had the interim tag of his AD position removed.

A tense history between Joyner and Sebastianelli is reportedly reviewed in the story.

The decision to change team physician in February was one that was surprising and examined, but is worth exploring once again in light of alleged concerns over physical and medical care to players.

Coach Bill O'Brien has released a statement ahead of publication of the SI story, claiming the medical care available to his team is on par with any treatment options available before the recent changes in staffing.

"From a coverage standpoint, we have exactly the same level of medical care as we had previously," O'Brien said in a statement. "The same surgeons as last year are available to players who would need that level of attention. Nothing about our level or quality of athlete care has changed."

Former players interviewed in the story include Adam Taliaferro and Michael Robinson, as well as former walk-on Garrett Lerner, who decided to leave the team in March as a result of injury concerns.

Based on some of the information leaked regarding Lerner, there may be some seriously valid concerns to address.

Some of the details of the story have already leaked via Twitter—they are very strong allegations—but the full story has yet to be published as of early Wednesday morning. We will have to wait and see how the story reads in full, but I am curious to see how the tease asking if athletics have too much power supports the first batch of details shared.

If athletics were too powerful at Penn State, wouldn't the school and program do everything they could to ensure the best medical support is available?

Given what is shared right now, the more appropriate question might be whether or not Penn State has done enough to provide adequate care to a program that realizes the next few years will be critical in regards to player health and safety with NCAA sanctions cutting back on scholarships available.

Again, until I read the story in full, it would be unfair to draw any real conclusions about the issue.

Kevin McGuire is the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast and managing editor of Nittany Lions Den. Follow McGuire on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.