4 Paternos to collect $13.4 million pension
Joe Paterno earned a $13.4 million state pension for his 61 years of coaching at Penn State University -- although he never got to collect a penny of it.
Family spokesman Dan McGinn issued a statement on Tuesday saying that Paterno's widow, Sue, will receive $10.1 million from the State Employees Retirement System this month, with the remainder to be paid out over two years.
McGinn said the Paterno family plans to donate $1.5 million to the university and community charities, bringing their total contributions to about $9 million.
Paterno, who died in January at 85, coached football at Penn State for six decades before school trustees ousted him in November, days after prosecutors filed multiple child sex-abuse charges against retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. A week before his ouster, Paterno got his 409th win, making him the winningest coach in Division I college football.
The pension payout is in addition to a final contractual $5.5 million payout from Penn State that included a $3 million career bonus.
Although Paterno brought Penn State two national championships, his final compensation package of $1.02 million was significantly less than the multimillion dollar pay packages other Division I coaches have collected in recent years.
Anthony Lubrano of Chester County, a Paterno supporter who recently was elected to Penn State's board of trustees, said the pension payout seems like a lot of money "but it's a pittance compared to what the Paternos have given to all of us."
"He could have left Penn State a long time ago for a lot more money. That money, I think, will end up going to many causes. They just give back and continue to give back."
Others echoed that sentiment.
"I think he built that school. He deserves every cent his family gets. He was one of the best coaches that ever lived," said John Moyher, 61, a retired Air Force master sergeant from Derry Township who is a Paterno fan.
Even the most ardent critics of what they see as an out-of-control pension system were hesitant to criticize Paterno's payout.
"The problem is not Joe Paterno or his desire to provide for his family. At issue is an unsustainable pension system that will harm our children and create intergenerational warfare," said Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital, a Harrisburg state government watchdog group.
"Joe Paterno was a state treasure and integrity brand who contributed to his retirement like any average Joe. I suspect he would view the amount of his pension payout with surprise and donate a portion to charity. Joe was an educator and a straight shooter. I'm sure he would ... use (the payout) as a platform to reform the system."
McGinn said the Paterno family's latest donation will include $500,000 to the Catholic center on campus. The remaining $1 million is pledged to the Paterno Foundation, which is selling a DVD of the Jan. 26 memorial service for Paterno. The family has said proceeds from the sale will go to Special Olympics, a cause championed by Sue Paterno.
The foundation will also donate to other charities.