Penn State defends itself against Sports Illustrated story

Penn State has issued statements refuting a Sports Illustrated story to be released later today that is expected to be critical of the medical care surrounding the football program. 
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Bill O'Brien says recent changes in the team's medical care were made "in the best interests of our program."

Bill O’Brien says recent changes in the team’s medical care were made “in the best interests of our program.”

The latest cover of SI calls the story a “special report” and features this headline: “Do Athletics Still Have Too Much Power at Penn State?” 
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The university was made aware of the story last week, according to Jeff Nelson, Penn State’s assistant athletic director. He also emailed the university’s response to the piece. 
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The article contends that Penn State football players will receive a drop-off in medical care in 2013, coinciding with recent staff changes, Nelson said. 
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The main players in the story reportedly are athletic director Dr. Dave Joyner, Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, the Nittany Lions’ former physician and orthopedic surgeon, and Gettysburg’s Tim Bream, the head athletic trainer for football.
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“To characterize the medical care Penn State provides our student-athletes as anything other than the highest quality is erroneous,” the university statement reads. “Access to urgent and quality care for our athletes is no less than where it was at any point in the past 20 years. 
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“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.” 
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“Contrary to the reporter’s assertions, Dr. (Wayne) Sebastianelli remains the doctor in charge of the university’s entire medical program for intercollegiate athletics, including football. Further, there has been no change in the support provided by State College-based Penn State orthopedic surgeons, including Dr. Sebastianelli.”
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The Sports Illustrated piece is done by senior writer David Epstein and was not available online Tuesday evening. 
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In February, Sebastianelli was moved to director of athletic medicine. Dr. Scott Lynch replaced him as team orthopedic surgeon and Dr. Peter Seidenberg took over as team physician. 
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Also in the winter, Penn State reached out to other universities in order to judge their medical care, Nelson said. He said Penn State football players will receive similar or even greater care this coming season compared to schools such as Ohio State, Alabama and LSU. 
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Here is Joyner’s prepared statement released Tuesday: 
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“Care of our student-athletes is a top priority for Penn State, as it always has been. The present medical care model is very consistent with peer institutions in the Big Ten and elsewhere. The present system offers appropriate and exceptional medical care for our student-athletes. 
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“It’s terribly unfortunate some want to make baseless accusations. We refuse to engage in such a conversation.” 
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Bill O’Brien also released a statement: 
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“When I was hired as the head football coach at Penn State, I was asked to observe areas of the football program and then make recommendations. After observing our medical organization in the football program for a full year, I recommended that it would be in the best interests of our program, and most importantly our student-athletes, to make a change in the team physicians.” 
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O’Brien said Dr. Seidenberg will attend our practices and Dr. Lynch will attend games. 
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