Franklin bills tension with Penn State compliance staff as 'healthy dialogue'
There is tension.
To James Franklin, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
A day after Penn State's athletics integrity monitor wrote of a "mutual lack of trust" between the university's athletics compliance staff and the head football coach in his annual report, Franklin said during his weekly press conference Tuesday he looks at that give-and-take as an opportunity to improve the program through communication.
"The way I look at it is, we have a healthy dialogue," he said. "I really do. I think we have a healthy dialogue, back and forth, with the compliance staff. I look forward to continuing to strengthen those relationships, representing Penn State the right way, representing Penn State football the right way and building a program that everybody can be proud of."
Citing "established, state-of-the art university policies and practices" that leave the athletics department well-positioned moving into the future, athletics integrity monitor Charles Scheeler recommended that oversight of the athletic department end at the end of the year, two years sooner than the agreement between Penn State, the Big Ten and the NCAA was set to expire in 2017.
But he also wrote of noticeable discord between Franklin and the compliance staff.
"I have spoken to the athletic director, head football coach, director of ethics and compliance, athletics integrity officer and athletics compliance staff members about this. All parties acknowledge the problem," Scheeler wrote. "Equally important, all parties have expressed a commitment to improving the communications and relationships between one another. This suggests the problem is solvable if the parties honor these commitments."
Franklin did not elaborate on his comments Tuesday, repeating only that he looked forward to strengthening his relationship with the compliance staff. He did say, though, the fact that Scheeler's recommendation to end his oversight is a positive for the university.
"I think it's another sign that the healing is taking place," he said. "A lot of hard work by a lot of different people got us in that position, so I think that's exciting news for the Penn State athletic department as a whole."