In November 2012 the Pennsylvania auditor general issued a special report, Recommendations for Governance Reform at the Pennsylvania State University After the Child Sex Abuse Scandal. Chapter 5 was titled: "Insiders moving back and forth between board and staff." The chapter specifically cites Joyner's transition from trustee to AD—made without a waiting period—as an example that conveys "a public message that influential insiders are running the university, and that objectivity and independent thinking are compromised."
On Jan. 25, 2013, after 20 years of service—but just four days after "acting" was dropped from Joyner's athletic director title—Sebastianelli was ordered to clear out his office in the football building by the end of the day. "It's a decision that I don't agree with, but it's something I have to work with," the 55-year-old Sebastianelli says. Athletic department officials escorted him out of the facility. (Philip Bosha, the team's primary care doctor, who worked under Sebastianelli, was also informed that he would be replaced but was given several weeks to transition.) Sebastianelli would retain the title of director of athletic medicine, but his work with the football team was over.
The sudden departure of the longtime orthopedic surgeon--head physician caused confusion among athletes, according to Penn State players and staff members. Several athletes say they were told that Sebastianelli had retired or resigned. Football players showed up at the hospital wondering if Sebastianelli could still remove their surgical sutures.
Joyner began to approach Penn State doctors about filling Sebastianelli's position with the football team. According to sources familiar with that process, the Penn State medical community was stunned by the abrupt removal of Sebastianelli, and several doctors declined offers to succeed him.
No official announcement regarding Sebastianelli was made at the time, and school personnel involved in internal discussions say that Penn State officials began to explore how they would justify, in the absence of performance issues, the removal of a longtime doctor with an endowed professorship. According to two people with knowledge of those discussions, Joyner's perceived dislike for Sebastianelli is widely enough known in State College that Penn State officials worked on talking points in case reporters asked whether Joyner was settling a personal score.
The news came out in the Centre Daily Times a month later: Sebastianelli was being replaced by Peter Seidenberg as head physician and by Scott Lynch—like Joyner and Lubert, a former Penn State wrestler— as orthopedic surgeon. Lynch is based in Hershey and will attend every game and meet weekly with injured players. The university released a statement to the paper about the shake-up, saying that the "change in physicians was made after a review of procedures and personnel by Coach Bill O'Brien and is part of an ongoing reorganization of the football staff."
"Scott Lynch is a wonderful doctor, but he's based in Hershey and has a full-time practice there," Pellegrini says. "I can't imagine Bill O'Brien will be happy with the coverage he'll get with a person running back and forth."
In an interview with SI, O'Brien said that he made year-end recommendations for improvements to the football team that included changing medical personnel. (Joyner, he said, approved and implemented the changes and chose the new doctors.) O'Brien said that he is happy with the changes and that Lynch was at most of the 15 spring practices that occurred over five weeks. "I believe that Dr. Lynch will be there just about every day in the fall," he said. A medical schedule Penn State gave to SI indicates that, during the week, Lynch will be expected to be present only on Wednesdays.
Asked to address this apparent contradiction, O'Brien said, "At the end of the day, I believe in a primary care physician being here every day, that's something I believe in, and that's one of the recommendations I made." Penn State, though, already had a primary care physician—Philip Bosha—present at every practice. "That's what I believe in," O'Brien said, "which is what we have, and which is what we had."
An athletic department staff member takes issue with the idea that coaches and ADs are making medical personnel decisions, saying, "How ironic is it that after everything that happened a year and a half ago, that the program is much more like an NFL program [in which doctors are picked by the team] than it ever was before."