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Coaches Sue Penn State in Sandusky Fallout

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - Two assistant football coaches sued Penn State, claiming it fired them unfairly when the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal disgraced the university and its football program.

Richard Anderson and Galen Hall claim Pennsylvania State University fired them "with rashness and without basis," and refused to pay the severance packages to which they are entitled.

Penn State fired them in January 2012, as the nation reeled at "the discovery of the horrific conduct" of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who is serving 30 to 60 years in prison.

"As a result of the national and international bad publicity suffered by Penn State as a result of Sandusky's reprehensible crimes, Penn State reacted by prematurely terminating ... the majority of the Penn State football coaching staff," including the plaintiffs, they say.

Hall of Fame head coach Joe Paterno had been fired midway through the team's season the previous autumn.

Sandusky was convicted of 45 of 48 child sexual abuse counts involving 10 victims over 18 years. Numerous victims or alleged victims have sued the university and Sandusky in civil court.

Anderson, who coached at Penn State for 34 years, and Hall, who coached there for eight, said Sandusky's actions - not their own - left them without jobs after years of work during which they were both "highly respected and accomplished in their profession."

They seek six months worth of unpaid severance wages, under university policy, and damages for breach of contract and violations of state labor law.

They also claim the school reneged on specific verbal assurances from its executives during the scandal. They claim that shortly after Joe Paterno was fired and his son Jay Paterno named interim head coach, the school's Human Resources Manager of Intercollegiate Athletics met with each assistant coach personally "to explain the process that would occur if any coach was not retained by Penn State's yet-to-be-selected new football coach." During those meetings, the plaintiffs say, it was "never once suggested that their employment would be terminated [or] that their wages and benefits would be extinguished upon the date of their non-retention by any new coach."

They say the HR representative also told them that if any assistant coaches were fired, they would be paid through the end of the school year before their severance pay kicked in.

Penn State breached that agreement, they say.

They are represented in the Court of Common Pleas by Gerard McCabe with Mitts Law and by Edward Mazurek.

The attorneys sued the university in a similar case in Federal Court in July 2014 on behalf of fired interim Nittany Lions coach Jay Paterno and assistant Bill Kenney. They sought $1 million in damages for conspiracy, labor violations and interference with prospective contractual relations.

Penn State did not respond to a request for comment.

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