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Joe Paterno Will: Family Releases Documents

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JOE PATERNO WILL
FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2011, file photo, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno watches warm ups before an NCAA college football game against Purdue in State College, Pa. In his first public comments since being fired two months ago, former Penn State coach Paterno told the Washington Post he "didn't know which way to go" after an assistant coach came to him in 2002 saying he had seen retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a boy, the Post reported on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. ( | AP

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — Joe Paterno's will left his personal property to wife Sue and established a trust for the remainder of his estate.

The documents released by the family Thursday to The Associated Press include the original seven-page will filed in 1997. The material didn't state how much Paterno or his estate were worth.

The Hall of Fame football coach died of cancer in January at age 85, less than three months after being ousted by university trustees in November as part of the fallout over the arrest of retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky on child sex abuse charges. The family released the will the same day Sandusky's trial wrapped up its first week in Centre County court.

The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens' Voice reported Sunday that Paterno's will had been sealed by a county judge in April upon request of the estate.

"The request was entirely appropriate and totally consistent with the actions of other prominent individuals," the family said in a statement issued through a spokesman. "The only objective was to preserve a measure of privacy for Sue Paterno, their five children, 17 grandchildren and other family members.

"In an effort to ensure maximum transparency and eliminate unfounded speculation, the family has decided to make the will publicly available," the family added. They said they would petition the court to unseal all future filings.

Sue Paterno was named "personal representative" of the will. The family also released a two-page codicil — or amendment — filed in 2010 that named the Paternos' daughters, Mary Kay and Diana, in that order, as the personal representatives if their mother was unable to do so.

There is a "clamor of transparency" anytime public documents are sealed without cause or explanation, said Larry Holeva, managing editor of the Citizens Voice and the (Hazleton) Standard-Speaker. "This wasn't about Joe Paterno, simply about ensuring that public documents remain public."

Paterno began working at Penn State as an assistant coach in 1950 before being promoted to head coach in 1966. He held Division I records for head-coaching tenure at one school and career victories, with 409.

He typically shied away from media questions about his salary and compensation. But the university was compelled to release his salary in 2007 after losing an open records lawsuit.

The school's 2011 filing valued Paterno's compensation at just more than $1 million — a veritable bargain for a coach with two national championships on his resume. Alabama's Nick Saban, for instance, makes more than $5 million a year.

Paterno's family last month released details of his state pension, valued at $13.4 million for his 61-year career at Penn State. At the same time, the family also said last month it planned to donate $1.5 million to Penn State-related and State College-area charities.

The university in April announced it had agreed to provide millions in payments and benefits to Paterno's estate and family under the late coach's employment contract. Included were four checks worth a total of more than $3 million to cover the season, bowl game and entire career, the university said. Despite the payout, the Paternos did not sign away their right to sue, the family's lawyer said.

The Penn State football coach died in January at age 85.

The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizen's Voice reported Sunday that Paterno's will had been sealed in Centre County court.

The family said in a statement Thursday it had done so to maintain privacy for the Paternos. They added they were now making it public to "ensure maximum transparency and eliminate unfounded speculation."

The statement said the family would also file a motion to unseal future filings.

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