Spanier receiving $3.3 million Penn State package


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A sizable portion of a severance and salary package worth nearly $3.3 million that ousted Penn State University president Graham Spanier is receiving will be deferred until 2017, the school said Wednesday in releasing terms of the payout.

Mr. Spanier, president for more than 16 years, was forced to resign a year ago as the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal exploded in the headlines. Earlier this month, Mr. Spanier became the third Penn State administrator criminally charged in connection with an alleged cover-up of Sandusky's crimes.

According to university data, Mr. Spanier's total compensation in calendar year 2011 was $3,255,762.

That sum included his $700,000 salary as president, $82,557 of taxable benefits and one-time compensation totalling $2,473,205, which Mr. Spanier was entitled to under the provisions of his 2010 employment agreement.

The one-time payout included severance of $1,225,000 and $1,248,205 in deferred compensation, which Mr. Spanier earned during his tenure as Penn State's president.

The university released terms of the package following inquiries from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Shortly after the newspaper posted a story on its website, the university placed a summary of the package on its website.

David La Torre, a Penn State spokesman, declined Wednesday to say how much the former president ultimately will keep after taxes, saying such questions should be directed to Mr. Spanier. Attorney Timothy Lewis, who represents the former president, said his client had no comment on the release of his pay package.

However, the brief description on Penn State's site appears to indicate that in 2017, the former president will receive $860,637 after taxes are withheld on $1,248,205 in deferred compensation.

Mr. Spanier, 64, remains a tenured faculty member but was placed on leave Nov. 1, the same day state Attorney General Linda Kelly announced that Mr. Spanier had been indicted on charges including lying to a state grand jury.

The severance portion of the package was triggered by Mr. Spanier's departure, which was announced Nov. 9, 2011, according to the university. He received the package in mid-December, Mr. La Torre said.

The former president "was terminated without cause," Mr. La Torre said. "The University was legally bound to fulfill his existing contract."

Mr. Spanier had been among the nation's highest paid university presidents. In June 2010, Penn State announced a three-year extension of his employment contract.

In keeping with that agreement, Mr. Spanier continued to be paid his salary while on a year's sabbatical that ended earlier this month. Mr. Spanier's current pay level as a university faculty member is $600,000 as provided for in the employment agreement, Mr. La Torre said.

He indicated that Penn State will not release a copy of the agreement.

Severance agreements are publicly available under the state's Right-to-Know Law. But since Penn State is exempt from most of that law's requirements, the university would not have been required to provide amounts paid to Mr. Spanier until filing its annual Right-to-Know report in May 2013, which must include data typically found on federal income tax 990 forms.

Advocates seeking changes to the law say such information would have surfaced months earlier had Penn State, a state-related university, not been exempt.

"This demonstrates, once again, why the Open Records Law should be amended to apply more broadly to the state-related universities," said Erik Arneson, communications and policy director for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware. "That change will be included in legislation Senator Pileggi plans to introduce early in the 2013 session."

Sandusky, a retired Penn State assistant football coach, is serving 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually assaulting 10 boys over a 15-year period. Some of those assaults occurred on Penn State's campus. His conviction on 45 counts came as leaders of the 96,000-student university faced harsh criticism for failing to report Sandusky's actions to law enforcement.

Two other Penn State administrators face criminal charges in what the attorney general's office called a "conspiracy of silence."

Mr. Spanier's resignation was announced the same night as the firing of football coach Joe Paterno. He died in January of complications from lung cancer. The scandal led to NCAA sanctions including a $60 million fine, four-year post-season bowl ban and deep reduction of football scholarships.

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Bill Schackner: bschackner@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1977. First Published November 29, 2012 5:00 AM


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