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Penn State seeks dismissal of Paterno-Kenney lawsuit

Jay Paterno speaks during an interview with the Centre Daily Times in February 2013. The former Penn State quarterbacks coach and son of the late Joe Paterno, along with former assistant coach Bill Kenney, is seeking damages from the university after having been dismissed.
Jay Paterno speaks during an interview with the Centre Daily Times in February 2013. The former Penn State quarterbacks coach and son of the late Joe Paterno, along with former assistant coach Bill Kenney, is seeking damages from the university after having been dismissed. CDT file photo

Penn State is seeking to have a suit brought by two former assistant football coaches dismissed.

On Tuesday, the university’s lawyers filed a 106-page response to the suit brought in federal court by Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney in which they are seeking damages in excess of $1 million for the impact of decisions made after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal on their professional lives.

The defense called the coaches’ version of events a “false and preposterous tale of an alleged conspiracy between the NCAA, the Freeh Firm and Penn State completely devoid of any specific factual allegations to support such a claim.”

Paterno, son of the late former head coach Joe Paterno, was the Nittany Lions quarterbacks coach. Kenney coached tight ends and offensive tackles.

According to the court documents, the two were released from employment after Bill O’Brien accepted the head coaching job in 2012, with Penn State paying out 18 months of full-salary severance to honor contract obligations.

“Plaintiffs were not singled out in any way and were treated in the exact same manner as the other similarly situated coaches who were terminated,” the response stated.

Kenney is now an offensive line coach at Western Michigan University.

Paterno said in his filing that he had applied for head coaching positions at Connecticut, James Madison, Colorado and Boston College, but was never interviewed.

He alleged that other schools considered the Penn State coaches “toxic” in the wake of the scandal.

The university, on the other hand, pointed to the jobs in question.

“Significantly, Paterno does not allege that he applied for any assistant coaching positions or any other positions potentially comparable to the one he lost when Coach O’Brien decided not to retain Paterno,” according to the motion.

“Paterno’s aspirations to become a head coach or a sports media star do not translate into a cognizable civil rights claim.”

The university also denied that the NCAA consent decree or the Freeh report did damage to the two, saying they were never mentioned in the document by name.

The decree does include references to “some coaches” and “football staff members.”

The university asked the suit to be dismissed with prejudice.

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