Paterno Won Sweeter Deal Even as Scandal Played Out
By JO BECKER
July 14, 2012
In January 2011, Joe Paterno learned prosecutors were investigating his longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for sexually assaulting young boys. Soon, Mr. Paterno had testified before a grand jury, and the rough outlines of what would become a giant scandal had been published in a local newspaper.
That same month, Mr. Paterno, the football coach at Penn State, began negotiating with his superiors to amend his contract, with the timing something of a surprise because the contract was not set to expire until the end of 2012, according to university documents and people with knowledge of the discussions. By August, Mr. Paterno and the university’s president, both of whom were by then embroiled in the Sandusky investigation, had reached an agreement.
Mr. Paterno was to be paid $3 million at the end of the 2011 season if he agreed it would be his last. Interest-free loans totaling $350,000 that the university had made to Mr. Paterno over the years would be forgiven as part of the retirement package. He would also have the use of the university’s private plane and a luxury box at Beaver Stadium for him and his family to use over the next 25 years.
The university’s full board of trustees was kept in the dark about the arrangement until November, when Mr. Sandusky was arrested and the contract arrangements, along with so much else at Penn State, were upended. Mr. Paterno was fired, two of the university’s top officials were indicted in connection with the scandal, and the trustees, who held Mr. Paterno’s financial fate in their hands, came under verbal assault from the coach’s angry supporters.
Board members who raised questions about whether the university ought to go forward with the payments were quickly shut down, according to two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
In the end, the board of trustees — bombarded with hate mail and threatened with a defamation lawsuit by Mr. Paterno’s family — gave the family virtually everything it wanted, with a package worth roughly $5.5 million….
Penn State takes first steps to recover after Sandusky scandal
Penn State trustees, taking ‘full responsibility’ for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, announced initial steps to recover the university’s tarnished reputation. Some say much more will have to be done, especially changing a campus culture in which sports coaches are idolized.
By Brad Knickerbocker, Staff writer / July 14, 2012
It’s likely to take years for Penn State to fully recover from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal that has blotted the reputation of the university and its most senior officials, including legendary head football coach Joe Paterno.
But in its first meeting since the blistering investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh, the university’s board of trustees has taken initial steps in that direction.
The board – which itself was criticized in the Freeh report for failing to create an environment in which much of the abuse might have been prevented – has begun by accepting what board chair Karen Peetz calls “full responsibility” for its failures.
Notably, the federal Clery Act of 1990 requiring the compilation and reporting of crime statistics, including sexual offenses, had never become policy at Penn State. Under the Clery Act – named for a young woman sexually assaulted and murdered in a Lehigh University dorm room in 1986 – Penn State officials were obliged to report Sandusky’s known activities to law-enforcement officials.
“Our hearts are heavy and we are deeply ashamed,” said trustee Ken Frazier. “We failed to ask the tough questions. We failed to push the issue.”