Former Penn State assistant football coach Bill Kenney applied for a bunch of coaching jobs after he was not chosen to join Bill O’Brien’s staff in 2012.
Jay Paterno, who didn’t make it onto O’Brien’s staff, applied for coaching gigs, too, but never had any luck.
The coaches claim, in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Centre County court, their job searches were futile because of the NCAA consent decree, which said they ignored “red flags” about Jerry Sandusky. The claims were part of an amended complaint and were required for the count of intentional interference to proceed in litigation.
“These coaches are well-respected in their field and would have had numerous job opportunities had not the NCAA falsely accused them of wrongdoing,” lawyer Wick Sollers said in statement.
Both Kenney and Paterno are suing the NCAA for defamation.
Kenney was a Penn State assistant coach for 24 years until he was let go after the 2012 season. The lawsuit said he applied to openings at Division I schools such as Florida State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Boston College and Massachusetts and the NFL’s New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns.
Kenney received a few interviews, but the lawsuit said he was asked questions during these interviews that had to deal with “the red flags of Sandusky’s behaviors” that the NCAA said in the consent decree. He said the questions did not deal with his credentials, and he wasn’t offered any jobs.
The lawsuit said Kenney learned that other college and NFL teams stayed away from him because they did not want to deal with potential recruiting issues or negative publicity. One unidentified Division I school’s coach was told not to consider hiring any Penn State coaches, according to the lawsuit.
Kenney eventually got a job as an offensive line coach at Western Michigan University, and he said he earns significantly less than he made at Penn State. He claims the NCAA caused his career to suffer “an extraordinary setback” and hurt his future job prospects and earning potential.
The lawsuit said Jay Paterno, a Penn State assistant coach for 17 years, suffered similar setbacks. Prior to the consent decree, Paterno had fielded inquiries from other universities and search firms about head coaching jobs, but after the consent decree, the interest went away.
Paterno tried for the head coaching jobs at Boston College, Connecticut, Colorado and James Madison University, but didn’t get any interviews. An unidentified school in the lawsuit considered Penn State coaches “too toxic.”
“Coach Paterno was extremely well-qualified for the positions he sought and would have received job offers from these programs had it not been for the disparaging accusations leveled against him by the NCAA defendants in the consent decree,” the lawsuit said.
Paterno had been in talks to be a college football commentator with networks such as ESPN and CBS Sports, and he was supposed to start with ESPN during the 2012 season. However, Paterno claims nothing ever materialized because network officials were nervous about the Sandusky scandal.
Paterno had talks with ESPN in 2013. However, a position once again did not materialize.
The lawsuit said Paterno has not found a job except for working as a freelance sports columnist.