Penn State quietly announced on Wednesday that Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli will no longer serve as the primary physician for the football team. The change was made public on the day Penn State released the news that associate athletic director for football administration Fran Ganter will retire after spending more than 40 years at the school as a player, coach and administrator.
There had been talk for several weeks that Sebastianelli had been pushed out or even fired. He is staying in his role as Penn State’s director of athletic medicine, but it seems pretty clear that Sebastianelli wanted to continue working with the Nittany Lions’ football team, something he has done for more than 20 years.
His reassignment did not sit well with Andre Taliaferro. And if anyone has earned the right to speak on the subject it is the father of Adam Taliaferro.
Adam Taliaferro sustained a terrifying spinal injury after making a tackle in a 2000 game at Ohio State, and Sebastianelli’s on-field care may be the biggest reason why Taliaferro made a near miraculous recovery.
Here is the full letter Andre Taliaferro sent to the Tribune-Review:
I was recently made aware of the change in status regarding Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli with the PSU football program. While it is not my intention to influence or inject myself into decisions made at PSU regarding their personnel or politics, I do feel compelled to weigh in on this matter. Specifically, my family, as well as many past and present PSU athletes and families, have benefitted from Dr. Sebastianelli’s professional and expert care to our loved ones participating in PSU athletic programs, especially football. To make it more personal, if Dr. Sebastianelli had not been on staff and involved with PSU football in September of 2000, my son could have died or been a lifelong quadriplegic due to the injury he sustained in a game with Ohio State University. This would have not only impacted Adam, but our entire family would be currently experiencing a significantly lessened quality of life. This is not hype but a fact!
While I am not naïve to think that decisions regarding PSU personnel are made solely for reasons of competence and that person’s ability to effectively and compassionately service their constituents, I can assure you that these qualities are most important to PSU players and families that will be impacted by the recent decisions made regarding Dr. Sebastianelli. I can personally attest that he is a person whom many feel possess the ideal combination of skill, demeanor, and personality that they want and desire for someone responsible for the well being of their loved ones. Put bluntly, he is second to none in his capability and capacity to service and advise past and current PSU players. And let this be known, his advice and counsel was not only accepted but also sought out by countless players and their families, both past and present.
In closing, removing or altering the involvement of Dr. Sebastianelli with the football program should and will be viewed by many as “malpractice,” political, and a disservice to all players and parents. I am not saying that there are not others who could perform his duties, but why make changes regarding a person who has proven numerous times his value to the program, its players, and parents? Again, I am not naïve to think that those making decisions will take into consideration the feelings and concerns of past and present players and their families who will be adversely impacted by Dr. Sebastianelli’s diminished role, but make no mistake, this will not be in the best interest of the players and their families.