Few college football coaches have experienced victory more than Penn State's Joe Paterno. But now the coaching legend is fighting a different kind of battle — all the way up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court — to keep the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System, Harrisburg, from releasing his salary information to a state newspaper.
Last week, Penn State filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court after a lower court ruled the $26.8 billion retirement system could grant a request filed in October 2002 by The Patriot News, Harrisburg, to disclose the salaries of Mr. Paterno and several other university officials, according to university spokesman Tysen Kendig.
Mr. Paterno is a participant in the state retirement system and the newspaper argued that under the Pennsylvania "right-to-know" disclosure law, his salary could be disclosed publicly. Penn State employees have been exempt from this law, said Mr. Kendig, because it is not a state-owned public university. Rather, he said Penn State is one of four "state-related" universities that only receive a small amount of state financial aid. He added only 10% of the salaries paid to Penn State employees last year came from state tax dollars.
Last November, the PennSERS board voted to release the information, pending approval from the state's Commonwealth Court, said Robert Gentzel, system spokesman. In August, that court approved the release and gave the university 30 days to appeal the decision to the state supreme court.
Mr. Kendig said there is no timetable for the Supreme Court to hear the appeal.