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NCAA inquires about additional Sandusky victims from Penn State lawsuit

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Penn State and Joe Paterno‘s family have already done their part to return the tragic Jerry Sandusky saga to the news this year.

Now the NCAA apparently wants to join in.

The Centre Daily Times reports the college sports governing body has requested information regarding two men allegedly victimized by Sandusky, a long-time Penn State assistant coach, in the 1970s.

Their stories came to light in a court filing from a lawsuit involving Penn State and an insurer. The school tried to collect on a policy to help pay settlements it reached with more than 30 individuals who accused Sandusky of sexually abusing them.

The university tried to recoup money for those settlements from liability insurer Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, but PMA challenged that in court. The two men’s cases were revealed in an order by Philadelphia Judge Gary Glazer that referenced their cases, years earlier than the 10 Sandusky was convicted of in 2012. One said he told Paterno.

The CDT story does not give any indication the NCAA might want to revisit the sanctions that were handed down in 2012.

Rather, it is looking for defense fodder in a defamation lawsuit filed by the family of Paterno, the legendary Nittany Lions head coach

The estate claims the college sports oversight group defamed the man who helmed the program from 1966 until his firing in 2011 after the Sandusky story broke.

A key point is the NCAA’s acceptance of the findings of the Freeh report, the university-commissioned investigation of the Sandusky scandal, which placed blame on four Penn State leaders, including Paterno, who died six months before it was released. The NCAA then levied historic sanctions on the university, including stripping 110 wins from the Nittany Lions, dropping Paterno from first place in the leaderboard for most wins by a Division 1 coach.

But in new documents, the NCAA says it needs the information about the two claimants to refute the estate’s defamation claims.

Sandusky was convicted in 2012, and some of the sanctions Penn State agreed to accept from the NCAA were gradually lifted in the following years.

While Sandusky reportedly continues to work on getting his convictions overturned, it’s not hard to imagine Sandusky’s victims and plenty of members of the Penn State community would prefer to move on from the tragedy — allowing both time to heal in whatever way is possible.

The same can most likely be said of current coach James Franklin, who took the job two-plus years ago after coach Bill O’Brien endured the brunt of the storm and maintained solid recruiting despite the sanctions.

During the spring, Franklin told CBSSports.com, “This is really year one for us in a lot of ways,” citing a return to having close to a full allotment of scholarships.

Hackenberg: No hard feelings with James Franklin

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Christian Hackenberg created a bit of a stir when he omitted Penn State head coach James Franklin from his announcement confirming he will be passing on his final year in Happy Valley and entering the NFL Draft. Now at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, that was one of the topics of conversation once again as Hackenberg makes his rounds with the media. Hackenberg says there is no friction with his now former head coach at Penn State.

“We’re fine,” Hackenberg said, according to PennLive. “No hard feelings there. I think he’s doing a great job up there in terms of recruiting and getting the program headed in the right direction.”

Franklin previously said he had spoken to Hackenberg about his decision, perhaps easing the tension from the way things looked as Hackenberg was on his way out. Hackenberg’s lack of public thanks to Franklin was viewed as a slap in the face of Franklin during a month that also saw two assistant coaches leave to fill the same position in other programs and a small handful of players opt to transfer for one reason or another. But Hackenberg says there was no ill-will intended.

“It was one of those times where it was really emotional,” Hackenberg said. “It was a decision that was made, and I didn’t have anything written out, so what came to mind was the people I spent a lot of time with and the people that brought me to Penn State. Coach Franklin and I had a conversation in person, and I felt like that was best for our relationship to thank him on a personal level.”

Hackenberg did single out a couple of assistants on Franklin’s staff, including offensive coordinator John Donovan, who was fired after the end of the regular season.

Penn State awards scholarship to legacy walk-on

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With a small handful of scholarships left to use, Penn State is giving a scholarship to senior Gregg Garrity. Garrity, a former walk-on player and punt returner, was awarded his scholarship Thursday morning.

Garrity’s father, also named Gregg Garrity, was a former wide receiver for the Nittany Lions and a part of the first national championship team coached by Joe Paterno. It was Garrity’s signature catch down the left sideline from Todd Blackledge in the 1983 Sugar Bowl against Herschel Walker and top-ranked Georgia that helped push the Nittany Lions to the first national championship in school history. The younger Garrity may not have the opportunity to provide as memorable a highlight for Penn State, but his hard work and dedication to the program have clearly not gone unnoticed by James Franklin and his staff. Garrity came to Penn State as a walk-on under former head coach Bill O’Brien and has made a case for playing time even if his role is limited.

Garrity returned two punts for nine yards last season. He could be expected to handle more punts this season, although DeAndre Thompkins and Mark Allen — both freshmen last season — could also get special teams assignments. Thompkins returned 23 punts for 178 yards last season to lead the team.

Mark Dantonio and staff get raises at Michigan State

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As expected, Michigan State is giving head coach Mark Dantonio and his staff well-deserved bumps in pay. The new contract for Dantonio, which was announced on Friday, will see Dantonio be paid $4.3 million per year through January 15, 2020. Michigan State will also set aside an extra $250,000 to be used on assistant coaching salaries.

“The University remains committed to providing all of the tools necessary to sustain a championship-caliber football program,” Dantonio said. “I wish to thank President Simon, Mark Hollis, the Board of Trustees and the entire administration for their trust, loyalty and support.

With the new $4.3 million annual salary, Michigan State has made Dantonio the third highest paid coach in the Big Ten. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($7 million), Ohio State’s Urban Meyer ($5.86 million), and Penn State’s James Franklin ($4.4 million) still rank ahead of the Spartans head coach, but he did pass Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz ($4.075 million). Outside of Meyer at Ohio State, no coach in the Big Ten is as accomplished a coach as Dantonio, so the raise is justified and earned. Dantonio has coached Michigan State to a 36-5 record over the past five seasons and the program has soared to new heights after a bit of a transition phase for Dantonio as a head coach in East Lansing. In addition to two Big Ten titles and a spot in the playoff, Dantonio has also coached Michigan State to victories in the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl.

The breakdown of Dantonio’s new contract is as follows;

  • $2,264,480 base compensation
  • $1,000,000 supplemental compensation
  • $700,000 contingent annual bonus
  • $185,520 benefits
  • $100,000 Nike apparel agreement (that’s a lot of Air Jordans)
  • $50,000 guaranteed performance incentives

“With a berth in the College Football Playoff this past season, Coach Dantonio has again shown his excellence in building a nationally prominent football program,” Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon said in a released statement. “He is an outstanding leader committed to MSU’s values who empowers his players to become the best Spartans they can be, whether on the field, in the classroom or as part of the MSU community.”

Report: Michigan State finalizing “significant raises” for Dantonio and staff

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Coming off a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff, Michigan State is reportedly set to pay Mark Dantonio and his coaching staff like kings.

A breaking report from Hondo Carpenter of Spartan Nation, Michigan State officials are believed to be preparing to finalize significant raises for Dantonio and his coaching staff. According to the report, Michigan State and Dantonio have been working behind the scenes to come together on the finer details of the pay upgrades as they find the numbers that work for Michigan State, Dantonio and his staff. There is no timeline for when the new contract details will be announced, although it could happen soon.

In 2015, Dantonio was the nation’s 21st highest-paid coach, earning $3,671,520 before bonuses. That put Dantonio fifth among Big Ten coaches in salary, trailing four coaches he defeated in 2015; Jim Harbaugh ($7 million), Urban Meyer ($5.86 million), James Franklin ($4.4 million) and Kirk Ferentz ($4.075 million). Aside from Meyer, no coach in the Big Ten has accomplished as much as Dantonio, with a pair of Big Ten championships to his name and victories in the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl in recent seasons. Michigan State’s staff salary ranked 24th in the nation last season with a combined salary of $3,195,154. This also ranked fifth in the Big Ten, trailing the same four schools; Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa.

Michigan State has not traditionally stayed ahead fo the curve when it came to Dantonio’s contract, but base don the level of performance the football program has achieved over the past few years it is wise to make sure that is no longer the case. This is especially true when lumped in the same division as Michigan and Harbaugh and Ohio State and Meyer. Michigan State has more than held its own in the division and shows no signs of backing down from the competition. Somewhat lost in the shadows of Michigan’s star-studded signing day festivities and another top-notch class in Columbus, Michigan State did pretty well with its class as well.

Dantonio’s name was floated around to some degree by some as a potential coaching candidate for South Carolina. Following the in-season retirement of Steve Spurrier, Dantonio was seen as an intriguing possibility, being a former South Carolina football player. Dantonio kept himself out of that conversation though and went on to win the Big Ten and play in the playoff this past season. He has built a good thing in East Lansing, and now the Spartans are rewarding him for it.