Over the past several months, Joe Paterno's family and their proxies have been busy attempting to protect his legacy. After the Freeh Report was released earlier this week, the family continued to assure us of his fundamental goodness and integrity, but the facts uncovered in the Freeh Report portrayed a man driven by his own selfish interests, even when those interests endangered young children.
Today, the NYT added another layer of shame on Paterno: shortly after receiving a subpoena to testify in the Sandusky scandal, Paterno contacted the University to negotiate his departure. While still in a position of great strength, Paterno negotiated for a $3 million severance payment if he left his position at the end of the 2011 season. He also wanted forgiveness of $350,000 in loans from the University, the use of the University’s private plane, and a luxury box at Beaver Stadium for him and his family for 25 years.
The contract was signed in August 2011, but the board of trustees was not told about it until November, when Sandusky was arrested. According to the NYT:
Board members who raised questions about whether the university ought to go forward with the payments were quickly shut down, according to two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
In the end, the board of trustees — bombarded with hate mail and threatened with a defamation lawsuit by Mr. Paterno’s family — gave the family virtually everything it wanted, with a package worth roughly $5.5 million. Documents show that the board even tossed in some extras that the family demanded, like the use of specialized hydrotherapy massage equipment for Mr. Paterno’s wife at the university’s Lasch Building, where Mr. Sandusky had molested a number of his victims.
Of course, Paterno was fired before the 2011 season, but in the face of a threatened lawsuit for defamation, the board of trustees gave Paterno's family the compensation provided for in the contract. One last thought from the NYT story:
The details of Mr. Paterno and his family’s fight for money seem to deepen one of the lasting truths of the Sandusky scandal: the significant power that Mr. Paterno exerted on the state institution, its officials, its alumni and its purse strings.
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