Jay Paterno sues Penn State for ‘improper termination’

Jay Paterno, in a 2011 photo. (Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)

Jay Paterno, whose late father was the legendary Penn State coach coach Joe Paterno, is taking the university to court.

Paterno and Bill Kenney, former assistant coaches at the school, allege that they were improperly terminated and accused Penn State of “engaging in civil conspiracy against them,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They are asking for more than a million dollars in damages. From the Post-Gazette’s story:

In the complaint, they claim the university damaged their reputations through press releases made after [Bill] O’Brien hired his staff and through its acceptance of the NCAA consent decree, making them unemployable for other football coaching positions.

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

The suit claims Kenney has applied for several open positions in the NFL and at colleges. When he has been interviewed, according to the lawsuit, questions have arisen about whether he “ignored ‘red flags’ ” concerning Jerry Sandusky, and the open positions often have been filled by less-experienced coaches.

It has been a similar situation for Paterno, according to the suit.

He claims to have applied for open head-coaching positions at colleges such as James Madison, Connecticut, Boston College and Colorado, and wasn’t interviewed for any of them.

The lawsuit contends that the university acted “without due process of law” in concert with NCAA President Mark Immert, investigator Louis Freeh and others in deciding to consent to NCAA sanctions after the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal. O’Brien was named head coach in January 2012 and left to take the Houston Texans’ top job this winter. Kenney, a former NFL quarterback, is offensive line coach at Western Michigan. Paterno briefly was a candidate for lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania this year. Paterno and Kenney are also plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Penn State and the NCAA.

Meanwhile, Jay Paterno’s new book, “Paterno Legacy,” hit the shelves early in a State College, Pa., store and, according to OnwardState.com, the book contains Paterno’s take on the “trustees who personally knew his father and still fired him, anecdotes on the Freeh investigators (including how they confused former quarterback Shane McGregor for a Sandusky victim), his father’s final moments, and his personal experience with sexually inappropriate activity.”

Paterno continued to coach after his father’s dismissal in early November 2011 and he writes that his father phoned to say how proud he was of his son after his first game under the interim coach. From the book:

“Well, I have to tell you that what you did was noticed by a lot of people. I heard from Presidents Bush today. They both called. The father called first and then the younger President Bush called. In fact he told me how proud I should be of my son and how you coach.”

Hearing what former President George W. Bush has said meant a great deal to me. For the generation that produced my father and President George H. W. Bush, loyalty was everything. When my father needed it most, I saw where they stood.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.



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Marissa Payne · July 23, 2014

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