Still no answers about Paterno's future at PSU
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WASHINGTON -- Joe Paterno's storied coaching career could end on a sour note -- if he lets it.
Two members of Penn State's Board of Trustees yesterday told the Post-Gazette that negotiations regarding a possible contract extension or succession plan for Paterno have not gone smoothly.
President Graham Spanier, who ultimately will decide whether Paterno, 81, stays or leaves when his contract expires after the 2008 season, declined to answer specific questions about Paterno's status yesterday.
"There's nothing new to report," Spanier said before the trustees' bimonthly meeting at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel. "And there are no talks set up for the foreseeable future."
Spanier reiterated there is "no timetable or deadline" for reaching a decision on Paterno's future, meaning it could drag into the start of the season in late August.
"Obviously, it's on the minds of everybody," said trustee Edward Junker, a Carnegie native.
Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley, who is not attending the two-day meetings, recently met in State College with Paterno to discuss his situation. But neither Spanier nor Curley has made any public statements about how the session went.
"All I know is they met ... but I haven't heard anything about that discussion," Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson said last night.
Paterno, the second winningest coach in Division I history, received a four-year extension in May 2004 with less than a year left on his old contract.
In November of that year, four high-ranking Penn State officials, including Spanier and Curley, showed up on Paterno's doorstep and urged him to stop coaching. They had asked him the same thing two weeks earlier.
Paterno ended up winning that power struggle. He might not be so fortunate this time.
Even though the 32 trustees don't have the final say on whether he is given an extension, they have some sway with Spanier, who recently was rewarded with a five-year contract extension.
One trustee said he expects Spanier to speak with several of them today to gauge their thoughts on Paterno, but he said: "There's going to be no decision made here this week."
None of the trustees publicly broached the subject of Paterno at yesterday afternoon's meeting.
Paterno is set to start his 43rd season with the Nittany Lions Monday when spring drills begin.
He has not talked to the media since the day after Penn State's Alamo Bowl win against Texas A&M in late December -- his 500th game at the school -- but he is expected to field questions next week.
Paterno's yearly salary of slightly more than $500,000 was revealed in November. It was one of the most closely guarded secrets in the state.
However, Paterno said at the time that he makes a lot more money than that with incentives and bonuses, but he didn't specify how much.
"I'm paid well," he said. "I got all the money I need."
Paterno, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December, has said repeatedly that he wants to continue coaching after his contract expires. His range has included anywhere from two-to-five more years.
He also believes his 2008 team, which returns 18 starters, can make a serious run at a national championship, something Penn State hasn't won since 1986.
The Nittany Lions are only 32-32 against Big Ten competition since the 2000 season.
And only once in the past decade have they finished higher than fourth in the conference standings.
Some of the trustees would like to see a new coach take over the program. But it's a dicey situation, given Paterno's status and clout at the university.
First Published March 21, 2008 12:00 am