Another pair of former Penn State football assistant coaches is suing the university.
Unlike Jay Paterno and William Kenney, this duo isn’t alleging that its reputation and job prospects were damaged, but that the university owes them unpaid wages.
Galen Hall and Richard “Dick” Anderson filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Tuesday, alleging that the university owes them an additional six months of wages and benefits that it didn’t pay the coaches.
In a civil complaint filed by Philadelphia attorney Gerard McCabe, the plaintiffs explain that it was Penn State’s “custom and practice” to pay coaches their full wages and benefits for 18 months beginning at the start of the next academic year after their release.
Anderson and Hall were both let go after newly-hired head coach Bill O’Brien decided not to retain them in mid-January 2012. O’Brien replaced Joe Paterno, who was fired in the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, and chose not to retain the majority of Paterno’s staff.
“Instead of paying Anderson and Hall their full wages and benefits through June 30, 2012, as was the custom and practice specifically implemented by Joe Paterno, and as otherwise agreed to by Penn State as described herein, Penn State accelerated the commencement of severance payments immediately after the termination and thereby purposely avoided payment to plaintiffs of six months of wages and benefits,” the filing said.
As the complaint described, assistant coaches released without cause were paid for an additional 18 months starting on the July 1 following their release. In this instance, Anderson and Hall said their severance pay was accelerated and then terminated six months early. They’re asking for compensation in excess of $250,000 in damages for the unpaid wages, which the complaint said is breach of contract and a violation of the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law.
In addition to their assertion that this practice was implemented as a result of Paterno’s wishes, Hall and Anderson also allege that Erikka Runkle, the human resources manager of intercollegiate athletics, informed them that they would receive this severance pay.
“Erikka Runkle orally agreed, and further confirmed with then-assistant coach Jay Paterno, that if any of the assistant coaches were released from their coaching responsibilities and not retained” they would receive the standard 18-month severance package, according to the filing.
The former coaches argued that Penn State didn’t pay them the full severance package because it wanted to cut ties with any reminders of Jerry Sandusky as quickly as possible.
“Penn State purposely decided to breach its agreements, and its customers and practices, by refusing to continue to pay plaintiffs until the end of the academic year … because Penn State had decided that it wanted to cut all ties with those assistant coaches that Penn State believed represented a reminder of Sanduksy Scandal,” the filing said.
Both of the coaches played for Penn State and had been on Paterno’s staff for a number of years at the time of their termination. Anderson was a tight end and defensive end at the university from 1959 to 1963. He was a Penn State assistant coach for 34 years, departing to serve as the head coach of Rutgers before returning in 1990.
Hall was the starting quarterback for Penn State in 1960 and 1961, leading the Nittany Lions to a pair of bowl games. He coached at West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Florida before returning to Penn State as the offensive coordinator and running backs coach, a position he held for eight years.
Penn State has no comment on the lawsuit at this time.