James Franklin, PSU Players Named in Isaiah Humphries Lawsuit Alleging Hazing

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2020

Penn State head coach James Franklin calls a play as Penn State plays Memphis in the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl college football game, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

Former Penn State football player Isaiah Humphries, who left the program in 2018, reportedly filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday that alleges head coach James Franklin and the coaching staff ignored and even retaliated against him when he reported violent hazing by some of his teammates.

Matt Miller of Penn Live reported the news, noting Humphries sued Franklin, the university and former teammate Damion Barber.

Miller reported the lawsuit also named Micah Parsons, Yetur Gross-Matos and Jesse Luketa as "ringleaders of the alleged abuse" and stated the hazing included players saying "I'm going to Sandusky you" in reference to former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who is in prison for molesting young boys while on staff.

Humphries described the hazing in the lawsuit and said Luketa went as far as to threaten to kill him for complaining about it.

"He claims his alleged tormenters would wrestle victims to the ground, then shove their genitals in the victims' faces or between their buttocks and hump them," Miller wrote. "Those who resisted were bullied, he contends. Hazers also stole their targets' clothes, Humphries says."

As for Franklin and the coaching staff, Humphries said they would have him do drills they knew he couldn't complete after he reported the hazing and spoke negatively about him to other programs after he elected to transfer.

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He also said an academic adviser subjected him to "irrational and inappropriate censure."

Penn State released a statement after the story was reported, revealing it followed the "established processes in place for responding to claims of potential misconduct" and investigated. The Office of the Centre County District Attorney also reviewed the case and did not pursue any charges:

Humphries, who was a member of the 2018 recruiting class, never played a game for the Nittany Lions.

He tweeted he was leaving "in order to grow and not lose the passion that I have for football and for everything that I value."

The safety, who transferred to California, is the son of Leonard Humphries, who played at Penn State and for one season in the NFL.

Franklin has been the head coach at Penn State since the 2014 season and has a 56-23 record. This is not the first time he has been involved in headlines concerning his conduct away from the field. In April 2014, when four of his Vanderbilt players were facing rape charges, ESPN reported Franklin "contacted the accuser shortly after the alleged incident."

In October 2014, Tony Gonzalez of USA Today reported Franklin testified in a pre-trial hearing for the players and "changed his story ... about whether he had seen a video of what police say was a sexual assault on a student by four former football players in June of 2013."

Miller noted Humphries' lawsuit was filed in U.S. Middle District Court.

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