A number of current and former Penn State football players have spoken out on social media Tuesday following allegations from a former player that he was forced out of the program after he reported extreme hazing.
In a lawsuit filed Monday, former Penn State player Isaiah Humphries claims other players facilitated a campaign to harass and haze the underclassmen. He alleges other players made unwanted sexual contact and threats and that he reported it to head coach James Franklin. The lawsuit names the university, Franklin, and ex-teammate Damion Barber as defendants in the case.
A number of current Penn State players and former Nittany Lions who played with Humphries have disputed the allegations and criticized Humphries on social media.
Former Penn State offensive lineman and Buffalo Bills rookie Ryan Bates sharply and directly criticized Humphries, writing on Twitter, “I was there when he was … from the jump he made a name for himself for being a trouble maker.”
Bates later deleted his tweet.
Former Nittany Lion defensive tackle Corey Bolds, who was last on Penn State’s roster in 2017 and transferred to Rutgers last year, also claimed on Twitter “the allegations are false.”
Garrett Taylor, a senior safety for Penn State this past season, also defended the football program on social media.
Another current player, redshirt sophomore safety Jonathan Sutherland, quoted Taylor’s Twitter post with the comment: “Facts.”
A number of other Penn State players seemed to allude to the situation and dispute the allegations on social media.
Parsons shared a social media post from a student-run site reporting Penn State’s statement that it conducted an investigation. Parsons did not comment when he shared the post.
Humphries, who is from Sachse, Texas, announced he was leaving Penn State in November of 2018 without ever playing a down for the Nittany Lions. He transferred to the University of California and is on the Golden Bears roster. He’s the son of former Penn State football and NFL player Leonard Humphries.
In the lawsuit, Humphries is now seeking unspecified financial damages for the harm it caused to his football career, along with severe physical and emotional distress.
Humphries did not respond when asked to comment on his former teammates’ reactions.
Penn State has said it did investigate the allegations and that the Centre County District Attorney’s Office reviewed a Penn State Police investigation and declined to file criminal charges.
Penn State University spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in a statement: “The University has established processes in place for responding to claims of potential misconduct. In accordance with our processes, the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response and the Office of Student Conduct carried out investigations of the plaintiff’s claims independent from Intercollegiate Athletics.
“In addition, Penn State police investigated related allegations and forwarded the results of that investigation to the Office of the Centre County District Attorney (DA). The DA reviewed the case and decided that no charges would be pursued.”
Based on extensive interviews, Powers said the university did not learn of any information that would substantiate the claims made against Franklin, and no claims of hazing were substantiated against anyone.
Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for the York Daily Record and GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.