Paterno estate: Penn State pays $5.76 million to family

Centre Daily TimesApril 20, 2012 

The Joe Paterno estate is receiving $5.76 million in retirement benefits and payments from Penn State, according to information the university released to the CDT Thursday.

That includes a $3 million retirement bonus that was part of an August 2011 contract amendment. According to the university, the payment was delivered, completing the university’s obligations to the family estate.

The estate is receiving an additional $900,000 in 2011 television and radio revenue.

The total also does not include $1,000 a month to Paterno’s wife, Sue, for the remainder of her life.

The money to fulfill the contract is coming from the athletic department’s reserve fund.

It includes the forgiveness of $250,000 in outstanding indebtedness and $100,000 in loans if Paterno retired at the end of the season.

“The university and Coach Paterno’s estate have finalized the remaining payments due under coach Paterno’s employment contract,” Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said.

“As the board of trustees has explained, it decided on Nov. 9, 2011, to honor the terms of coach Paterno’s contract as if he had retired at the end of the 2011 season,” Mahon said. “That contract recognized coach Paterno’s decades-long contributions to our football program and to the entire university.”

Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers issued the following statement Thursday: “The university made payments today pursuant to Coach Paterno’s contract. In January, university officials acknowledged that they would fully honor the contract.”

“Because a number of reporters have inquired about the family’s reaction to the ‘settlement,’ it should be noted that this exercise was a straightforward payment of monies indisputably owed to the Paterno estate,” the statement continues. “The university had requested that the family agree to a full release in return for the payments under the contract. That request was declined and no release was signed. It would be incorrect, therefore, to characterize the payments as a settlement.”

Trustees announced at a hastily called press conference the night of Nov. 9 that Paterno was being terminated as coach. Earlier that day, Paterno had announced his plans to retire at the end of the season.

The trustees’ decision meant that Paterno could not coach the remaining games. According to the university, trustees decided to treat the situation as though Paterno had retired.

The benefits in the August 2011 amendment include making Paterno head coach emeritus.

According to a spokesman, the $3 million bonus was not part of the contract until it was included in the August 2011 amendment to which university officials and Paterno agreed. Paterno had a base contract that could be amended if both the coach and the university agreed. Amendments receive approval from the president and athletic director — Graham Spanier and Tim Curley at the time. The board of trustees’ compensation council was also consulted before it was finalized.

Paterno died from lung cancer in January.

According to a spokesman, it took time after Paterno’s passing to discuss additional issues that are not part of the contract released Thursday.

Those questions, including naming issues, are still being discussed. Further details about what they are specifically were not available. Instead of waiting to resolve those questions, those on both sides decided to move forward with the contract and payments, the spokesman said.

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