An estimated $5.5 million termination payment to Joe Paterno’s estate, Penn State University ended its contractual relationship with late, legendary head football coach.
The payment was confirmed by the Paterno family, whose attorney pointedly disputed the university’s characterization of it as a settlement.
The statement released by attorney Wick Sollers said.
“The university had requested that the family agree to a full release in return for the payments under the contract,” Sollers said. “That request was declined and no release was signed. It would be incorrect, therefore, to characterize the payments as a settlement.”
Paterno was fired Nov. 9 during the season, in a reaction by the PSU board of trustees to the explosive outrage over the university’s perceived inaction on child sex abuse allegations that, days earlier, resulted in charges against Jerry Sandusky, Paterno’s former defensive coordinator.
Sandusky is awaiting trial on charges that he sexually assaulted 10 boys. He maintains his innocence. Jury selection is scheduled to begin June 5.
Baldwin’s letter made no reference to honoring Paterno’s contract’s terms.
The terms of Thursday’s payout include a $3 million “career bonus” to be paid upon Paterno’s retirement, the use of a Beaver Stadium suite by his family for 25 years, a $900,000 cut of television and radio revenue from the 2011 season, and about $500,000 in other bonuses and salary payments due from last season.
Curiously, the terms laid out by the university also detail forgiveness of two debts totaling $350,000. It was not clear from the document who in the Paterno estate owed that money, and Mahon could not elaborate Thursday other than to say the loans were extended at least 25 years ago.
The announcement comes against a backdrop of perceived tension between the Paterno family, the coach’s legion of fans and leaders of the school.
During his 46 years as coach, Paterno led the Nittany Lions to 409 wins, two national championships and five perfect seasons, all the while cultivating a reputation for “winning with honor.” Paterno and his wife, Sue, were also prolific fundraisers for the school.
When Paterno died Jan. 22 of complications from lung cancer, his family and its allies in the athletic department — not the Penn State administration — organized Paterno’s funeral and on-campus memorial service. Trustees pointedly did not attend as a group, due in part to lingering resentments over the firing.
While Penn State has said it plans to honor the late coach’s life and accomplishments sometime after pending internal investigations into the university’s role in and handling of the Sandusky scandal, the Paterno family was wounded anew on March 12 when the trustees unexpectedly issued a fresh statement saying they fired Paterno for “failure of leadership” regarding the case.
Later that day, the family shot back with its own statement asking, “When will the board step up and acknowledge that the ultimate responsibility for this crisis is theirs?”
Besides use of the Beaver Stadium suite, the terms of the payout also says Sue Paterno will receive a monthly payment of $1,000 for the rest of her life, on-campus parking privileges at University Park and access to the Lasch football building to use specialized hydrotherapy equipment.
The latter perk comes despite a newly announced effort at Penn State, in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, “to ensure that the university immediately retrieves keys, access cards and all other university property from individuals who are not formally associated with the university.”
In its statement announcing the deal, Mahon said the completed contract terms “recognized Coach Paterno’s decades-long contributions to our football program and to the entire University.”
Asked later whether the large cost of the termination payment will affect the university financially, Mahon said “Paterno’s eventual retirement was expected and planned for.”
- A $3 million “career bonus.”
- The use of a Beaver Stadium suite by Paterno’s family for 25 years.
- A $900,000 share of television and radio revenue from the 2011 season.
- About $500,000 in other bonuses and salary payments due from last season.
A source close to the family of the late Joe Paterno said;
Jow’s Paterno’s family has rejected a deal to not sue the school in exchange of renaming Beaver Stadium in Joe’s memory; When Joe was alive he did not want the stadium named after him since he felt the fans should make that decision but he felt honored about the honor.
Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers said;
There is no settlement that the money paid to the Paterno and his estate in exchange they will not use the school for wrongful termination.