Penn State University has agreed to pay about $5.5 million to the estate of football coach Joe Paterno, who was fired in November because of his handling of a child-sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant, the Associated Press said.
The school yesterday paid about $3 million to the Paterno estate and family members, as part of bonuses owed the coach for his work last season and during his 46-year coaching career, the news agency reported today citing an unidentified university spokeswoman. In total, Penn State will pay about $5.5 million in payments and benefits to the family of Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January at age 85.
Wick Sollers, the Paterno family attorney, issued an e- mailed statement yesterday saying that the payments were “indisputably owed” to the Paterno family in the late coach’s contract and the family had not signed away its right to sue.
“The university had requested that the family agree to a full release in return for the payments under the contract,” Sollers said in the statement. “That request was declined and no release was signed. It would be incorrect, therefore, to characterize the payments as a settlement.”
Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the payments.
Paterno was fired Nov. 9 following criticism for failing to contact police when told of a case involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was charged with assaulting boys in the school’s athletic complex. In 46 seasons as the Nittany Lions’ coach, Paterno won 409 games, a record at college football’s highest level.
Beaver Stadium Suite
As part of the State College, Pennsylvania, university’s payment package, Paterno’s family is allowed use of a suite in Beaver Stadium for 25 years, and $900,000 from last season’s television and radio revenue, the report said. The university will pay Paterno’s wife, Sue, $1,000 a month for life, and provide her with use of on-campus facilities.
The estate also will receive a $3 million career bonus that Paterno would have been paid had he retired at the end of last year. Though Paterno was fired during the season, he announced his intentions to step down at year’s end following Sandusky’s arrest, and the university’s trustees elected to honor the terms of the contract, the Associated Press said.
Sandusky is scheduled to face trial June 5 on more than 50 criminal counts tied to the alleged abuse of boys over a 15-year period. Former Athletic Director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz also await trial after being accused of lying to a grand jury. All three men have denied the charges.
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