Bream has also ordered medical braces for athletes, according to multiple sources, a task at Penn State previously left to physicians or at least done with physician approval. And several university medical sources say that beginning last season, Bream told physicians to stop talking with the parents of players. What's more, Bream said that they should not spend as much time in the athletic training room, and that they aren't needed on many of the occasions when they used to show up, including at some morning conditioning sessions in winter.
In February, walk-on wide receiver Garrett Lerner says he was being treated by Bream with an electrical-stimulation, or "stim," machine. According to Lerner the contact pads for the machine were worn down and did not stick well to his hirsute legs. "Tim said he just wrapped it anyway because he figured the ice and the ACE bandage would keep it down. But it didn't stick," Lerner says. "The electricity ended up arcing onto my leg." Lerner, who left the team in March due to an unrelated injury, ended up with two severe burns—quarter- and dime-sized—on his right leg.
Stim burns occur on rare occasions. The greater problem in Lerner's case, he says, was that later in the week, when his leg became painful, no physician was in the athletic training room to examine him, and the athletic trainers decided simply to keep the burns covered. Lerner insists that the athletic training staff took good care of him, but he was not seen by a doctor for several days, by which point his leg had become infected. He tweeted, "Third degree burns on my leg from the stim machine ... awesome."
Lerner was actually sent to Sebastianelli, who had just been ousted as team physician, by a concerned doctor who learned of the injury. Lerner says that subsequently Seidenberg, the team's new physician, advised him not to go outside of Penn State to see a specialist. (Seidenberg did not respond to an e-mail from SI.) Lerner's mother objected and took him to Lehigh Valley Hospital, where doctors contemplated skin grafts to repair what had become "craters in my leg," as Lerner puts it. Ultimately, he was treated with antibiotic ointment, and it was two months before his skin started to regrow. "Tim said it was a freak accident," Lerner says.
For many at Penn State, the enduring image of Sebastianelli is from 2000, when he knelt beside Adam Taliaferro. The freshman cornerback—now a Penn State trustee—had just exploded the fifth cervical vertebra in his neck and bruised his spinal cord with a head-down hit on an Ohio State running back's knee. Sebastianelli quickly aligned Taliaferro's spine and ordered the paramedics to call ahead to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to prepare a shot of the steroid methylprednisolone.
Most who suffer Taliaferro's injury never walk again, but all of the emergency treatment that day happened in the right way and at the right time. In nine days Taliaferro began to regain movement, and Sebastianelli flew every week to the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia to be by his side. "He's a guy that became part of my family," Taliaferro says. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be walking today." Which is why Taliaferro was "very concerned" when he learned that Sebastianelli would be replaced. "I'm trying to figure out what's going on," Taliaferro told SI.
Taliaferro's father was more direct. "They're putting b.s. out there about, Well, this is Coach's decision," Andre Taliaferro says. "Even if it was Coach's decision, that's wrong. You don't ask the doctor to make coaching decisions."
"Clearly, this is not what the skeptics and critics want out of Penn State," Evarts says. "It's not what one would like to see happen to correct some of the problems that existed."
Pellegrini sees a major conflict of interest: A return to the pre-1992 football medicine model, he says, may reopen opportunities for local private doctors to work with players, including Joyner and his former partners. "He has a business conflict of interest and a personal conflict of interest," says Pellegrini, now chair of orthopedic surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina. "My own opinion is that he's not an honorable guy in this situation."
That website dedicated to transparency, explicitly intended to quell the outcry from a scandal centered in the athletic department? The only information about Joyner, who assumed such a critical position at such a crucial time under such controversial circumstances, is a copy of the memorandum of understanding that named him acting athletic director.