Happy Valley has another frown to turn upside down after the school was compelled to release a statement denying allegations published by ESPN claiming head coach James Franklin asked a former player to keep quiet and not go to police following a violent physical altercation between teammates.

Isaiah Humphries, a former Nittany Lions defensive back, told ESPN the coach advised him against reporting to police following a brutal 2018 fight with former teammate and All-American Micah Parsons that is said to have included punching, choking, and at one point a knife being drawn. 

The Nittany Lions responded on Friday by formally denied the allegations in the story, calling them “unsubstantiated,” while further claiming an internal investigation revealed no wrongdoing by coach Franklin.

The statement was first published in Onward State, and reads in full:  

“Penn State diligently works to foster a community of safety and security for its students and student-athletes, so that they may participate freely in the academic and athletic opportunities the University offers. We’re disappointed that ESPN has chosen to rehash a series of allegations that have remained unsubstantiated despite being investigated thoroughly through the University’s established processes for responding to claims of misconduct and by the Penn State police.

Coach Franklin never instructed Mr. Humphries to avoid contacting authorities. The court has twice rejected Mr. Humphries’ complaints, and despite his continued revisions, previously dismissed the claims against Coach Franklin in their entirety. We believe the claims relating to Coach Franklin have no merit, and we will continue to defend him vigorously.”

The Nittany Lions, currently playing through a historically bad 0-4 start, are at home Saturday to play the suddenly hot Iowa Hawkeyes in pursuit of the season’s first victory.