PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The hiring of James Franklin as Penn State’s football coach energized a fanbase weary of the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
While the sanctions are nearly finished, the scandal continues to place some weight on the football program.
The spotlight on the program has been most evident with the continued national attention on a case dating back to the new head coach’s previous stop at Vanderbilt.
As Franklin and other coaches were about to begin a barnstorming tour of the mid-Atlantic as part of a Penn State coaches caravan, attorneys in Nashville were filing court papers to dismiss a rape case against a former Vanderbilt football player.
The alleged incident took place on the Nashville campus last June and also led to charges against four other former players.
The most recent filing, seeking to dismiss the case against Brandon Vandenburg, dragged Franklin’s name back into the proceedings.
Vandenburg’s attorneys claim evidence has been withheld by authorities, including an interview the victim gave police.
In that alleged interview, the victim told police of two conversations with the former Vanderbilt coach, including one checking on her welfare and expressing concern while the victim was in the hospital.
The district attorney’s office in Nashville has repeatedly said there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Franklin in the way he handled the case and has cited the swift action taken to dismiss the accused players from the football team.
As the court cases make their way through the judicial system, Franklin has been periodically dealing with the questions as each new development is reported. On Thursday, he spoke with KDKA-TV about having to deal with questions.
“We’ve addressed it multiple times,” said Franklin. “There’s not a whole lot I can really say to be honest with you. I’m very comfortable with how we’ve handled it. It’s been a little frustrating having to talk about it. Every time I get frustrated, I think about who we really should be concerned about and leave it alone.”
The case at Vanderbilt was already in the public record when Penn State hired Franklin.
University officials insist it was more thoroughly vetted than any other case involving a hiring at the school. Franklin agreed about the care that was taken in the hiring process.
“It couldn’t have been more vetted throughout the entire process,” said Franklin. “It was discussed, it was looked at. Penn State did a very, very thorough background check, so they’re comfortable, I’m comfortable, and we’re moving forward.”