Harrisburg, Pa. – Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno's long service at the university theoretically puts him in line for a pension of more than $500,000 a year, according to an Associated Press analysis of state public pension records.
Paterno's pension records obtained Tuesday from the State Employees' Retirement System credit him with more than 60 years in the system. The formula used to determine benefits makes him eligible for a pension equal to 100 percent of the average of his three highest-salary years.
His pay rose from $541,000 to $568,000 over the past three full calendar years.
When Paterno retires, he will have to make a set of choices to determine his pension, including whether to designate a survivor to receive benefits after he dies and whether to obtain a one-time, lump-sum payment of his own contributions.
State Employees' Retirement System spokeswoman Pamela Hile said Internal Revenue Code and Retirement Code benefit limits may also apply, so the agency does not issue estimated pension benefits ahead of time. There also is a long-service supplement that could boost Paterno to 110 percent of his final average salary.
A 2006 report on Pennsylvania state pensions said the largest pension at that time within SERS was $254,000, being collected by a Penn State surgery professor who had withdrawn a $554,000 lump sum.
Paterno, 84, lost his job as head football coach last week after his onetime top assistant Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing boys, including some on campus, for more than 15 years.
Paterno has not been charged with any crime, and state prosecutors have said he is not a target. But he has come under criticism for how he responded when a graduate assistant said he saw Sandusky sexually attacking a boy in the football team locker room shower. A grand jury report said Paterno contacted the athletic director but did not go to police, and he has said he wishes he had done more.
Sandusky has denied the allegations against him, acknowledging he showered with young boys and hugged them but saying his behavior was nothing more than horseplay. He told NBC News' "Rock Center" on Monday that he is not a pedophile but should not have showered with the boys he's charged with sexually assaulting.
The retirement system also confirmed Tuesday that Sandusky collects a $59,000 annual pension and withdrew $148,000 upon retirement.