Paterno's annual salary released after court battle
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Joe Paterno's salary is no longer one of the most closely guarded secrets in college sports -- the Penn State coach will earn more than $500,000 this year.
The State Employees' Retirement System released Paterno's salary Thursday, more than a week after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that his salary and those of other top Penn State officials are public information.
Paterno was paid $427,220 in the first 10 months of 2007 -- putting his year-end salary on track to be $512,664. He was paid $490,638 last year, according to the retirement system.
"I'm paid well. I'm not overpaid," Paterno said earlier in the day, during an interview with reporters about his upcoming College Football Hall of Fame induction. "I got all the money I need."
But it's not even close to what some other big-name coaches are making. Alabama's Nick Saban is the highest-paid coach at $4 million per year, while Oklahoma's Bob Stoops makes over $3 million. Ohio State's Jim Tressel, Florida's Urban Meyer and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier make upward of $2 million annually.
Many coaches receive substantial bonuses or outside income, but the retirement system data did not show other forms of compensation.
Paterno acknowledged Wednesday he makes more money than is reflected in the retirement system's figures. But he didn't specify how much.
The disclosure of Paterno's salary was forced by The Patriot News in Harrisburg, which asked the retirement system nearly five years ago to release the salaries of Paterno and three other school officials.
Penn State, which had refused to make the information public, also opposed the release by the retirement system on the grounds that it would be unfair to the affected employees and might hurt morale or make it more difficult to recruit and retain talent.
The legal wrangling ended last week, when the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court order to release the information. The justices said the lower court properly balanced the public's right against the effects the disclosure might have on reputations and personal security.
Paterno, 80, has been head coach for 42 years, a record for major college football. He holds records for bowl appearances (33) and postseason wins (22). His 371 total victories put him two behind Florida State's Bobby Bowden for most among major college coaches.
A 2006 comparison by USA Today showed that Big Ten coaches' salaries ranged from $231,000 at Purdue to $2.8 million at Iowa.
The retirement system disclosed Paterno's salary after receiving a formal notice from Penn State that officials would not appeal the high court's ruling.
"We still feel the same way we felt previously -- employees have a fundamental right to confidential financial information," Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said. "It's unfortunate that thousands of them no longer have that confidentiality."
Paterno said his first contract for head coach in 1966 was for $20,000.
"It bothers me that people have to know what I make," he told reporters. "What difference does it make what I make, all right? I don't know what you guys make."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press