By Harry Allison

Penn State coach James Franklin has denounced a letter that was sent to one of his players that members of the team have interpreted as being racist.

Safety Jonathan Sutherland received a letter from a Penn State alum that was critical of his appearance and said his “shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting.”

“Jonathan Sutherland is one of the most respected players in our program,” Franklin said in defense of his player at his weekly news conference. “He’s the ultimate example of what our program is all about. He’s a captain, he’s a dean’s list honor student, he’s confident, he’s articulate, he’s intelligent, he’s thoughtful, he’s caring and he’s committed.

“He’s got two of the most supportive parents, and I would be so blessed if my daughters would marry someone with his character and integrity one day.”

In the letter, written by Johnstown, Pennsylvania, resident Dave Petersen, Sutherland’s hair, appearance and demeanor are criticized. Petersen said in the letter that he and his wife “…miss the clean cut young men and women from those days. Watching the Idaho game on TV we couldn’t help but notice your — well — awful hair. Surely there must be mirrors in the locker room! Don’t you have parents or [a] girlfriend who’ve told you those shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractive.”