Penn State releases statement in advance of potentially damaging Sports Illustrated piece

Penn State Nittany Lions players sing the alma mater following the Blue White spring game at Beaver Stadium. (Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports)

Penn State Nittany Lions players sing the alma mater following the Blue White spring game at Beaver Stadium, but could this program be coming under even more scrutiny soon? (Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports)

The Penn State football and athletics programs are far from fully recovered following the scandal that rocked the international sports world. The Nittany Lions remain under an intense microscope, and media outlets are looking for any and all reasons to paint the program in a negative light.

That includes, apparently, Sports Illustrated. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the magazine is going to publish an investigative report on the university called “Do Athletics Still Have Too Much Power at Penn State?”. While actual excerpts of the piece have not been made public as of writing, we do know what the article is to detail: It is looking into supposedly lagging medical conditions at the school.

That is we all know, but apparently the decision makers at Penn State have been made aware of the contents of the SI article — and it must have spooked them, as they have released a preemptive statement in advance of the article’s publication on Wednesday:

“To characterize the medical care Penn State provides our student-athletes as anything other than the highest quality is erroneous. Access to urgent and quality are for our athletes is no less than where it was at any point in the past 20 years.

“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.”

After being hired, football coach Bill O’Brien drew some heat for replacing Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, who had been the team’s head physician for 21 years. However, O’Brien made it clear that there has been no drop-off in treatment.

“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.”

Athletic director Dave Joyner concurred, saying that the school’s medical care was, “very consistent with peer institutions in the Big Ten and elsewhere” and called some statements in the SI story “baseless accusations.”

Stay tuned. As mentioned previously, the SI bomb drops on Wednesday.

[H/T: College Football Talk]