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Penn State's Spanier won't get severance until 2017

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 2:30 p.m.
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier leaves Harrisburg District Judge William Wenner's office Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012 in Harrisburg, Pa. Spanier was arraigned and released on bail at the brief court appearance on charges he lied about and concealed child sex abuse allegations involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. (AP Photo/Jason Minick)

Penn State University owes $2.47 million in severance pay to ousted President Graham Spanier but won't release the money until 2017, the school announced on Wednesday.

University trustees removed Spanier, 64, from his 16-year presidency on Nov. 9, 2011, several days after prosecutors charged former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky with child sexual abuse. Spanier faces charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and child endangerment in connection with the case.

Spanier receives his $600,000 annual salary as a tenured professor while on leave as criminal proceedings unfold.

In the meantime, “Dr. Spanier will not be permitted to perform any university duties or to use an office on campus,” spokesman David La Torre wrote via email.

Penn State released the severance details as it tries to be more open, he said, though state Auditor General Jack Wagner complained that the university took too long.

Wagner said university trustees must have gone over the severance arrangement during separation talks a year ago.

Penn State declined earlier requests for the information, including from the Tribune-Review.

“All of this information should be publicly available when it occurs if someone asks for that information,” said Wagner, who has recommended reforms and better transparency at Penn State. “The public has a right to know. This is a public university.”

A Washington-based attorney representing Spanier, Timothy K. Lewis, declined to comment on Wednesday.

Penn State said it reported total taxable income for Spanier at $3,255,762 for 2011. The tally includes $700,000 in pay, $82,557 in taxable benefits and $2,473,205 in deferred severance pay.

The “contractually entitled severance payments” won't be delivered to Spanier until June 2017, La Torre said, citing terms of a 2010 employment contract.

Spanier received a $700,000 salary during a sabbatical that ended one year after his firing, the university reported. His annual compensation package before his ouster totaled $937,955, according to a university report for the year ending June 2011.

Spanier's current annual pay is dictated by a contract he negotiated as president in 2010, La Torre said. The university is obligated to pay him that rate for four more years, he said.

Under earlier university practices, he said, details such as executive severance pay would have been released only in May, when Penn State makes its annual Right-to-Know filing.

“But it was released (Wednesday) as part of the university's ongoing commitment to be more open and transparent,” La Torre wrote.

A preliminary hearing for Spanier and two other former school administrators, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, is scheduled for Dec. 13 in Dauphin County.

Prosecutors contend the men engaged in a “conspiracy of silence” that enabled Sandusky to abuse children.

Spanier, Curley and Schultz maintain their innocence.

Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence in the State Correctional Institution at Greene, in Greene County. Centre County jurors convicted him in June on 45 of 48 counts, finding him guilty of abusing 10 boys over 15 years.

Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or Staff writer Debra Erdley contributed to this report.

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