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Paterno son, another ex-football assistant coach suing PSU

| Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 4:51 p.m.

Another Paterno v. Penn State lawsuit has been filed.

Jay Paterno, son of longtime former PSU football coach Joe Paterno and a former assistant coach under his father, joined fellow former assistant Bill Kenney in filing a $1 million lawsuit against Penn State in U.S. District Court on Monday.

The suit states that the university acted “with rashness and without basis by prematurely releasing … the majority of the Penn State football coaching staff” in January 2012 when the Jerry Sandusky child sexual assault scandal was unfolding. Jay Paterno had just completed his 17th season on the Nittany Lions' staff — he most recently served as quarterbacks coach — and Kenney was in his 24th, mostly coaching offensive linemen.

The suit notes that none of the assistant coaches from the 2011 season — only two were retained — was connected to wrongdoing in the Sandusky saga. It alleges “Penn State terminated each of them at the height of the Sandusky Scandal's dark shroud and without any attempt whatsoever by Penn State to preserve the reputations of these guiltless individuals.”

Sandusky, 70, a longtime Penn State defensive assistant coach, was charged in November 2011 with sexually abusing eight boys. He later was charged with abusing two more boys. He was convicted in June 2012 of 45 counts related to child sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

The Paterno lawsuit also mentions the consent decree the university signed with the NCAA in the wake of the Sandusky scandal that levied penalties against Penn State, saying that action “destroyed any realistic prospect Plaintiffs had to obtain other comparable positions for which they were qualified.”

The suit claims Penn State owes Paterno and Kenney severance money.

“It is common practice for incoming head coaches to select their own coaching staff,” university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in an email Tuesday. “Penn State will have no further comment on this matter.”

The Paterno family filed a lawsuit against the NCAA in May 2013 over sanctions the organization levied against the university's football program. Penn State was added as a nominal defendant in February.

Kenney, who is coaching at Western Michigan, and Jay Paterno are named as plaintiffs in that suit, claiming the sanctions hurt their employment prospects.

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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