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Paterno’s salary must be made public, says state Supreme Court

The state retirement system must disclose the salaries of Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno and the school’s top administrators, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The 4-2 decision said the Commonwealth Court, which had ordered the disclosure, had properly balanced the public’s interest in knowing details about retirement system finances against the effects disclosure might have on reputations and personal security.

The case was the result of a 2002 request by The Patriot-News in Harrisburg that sought the salaries of Paterno and three other Penn State officials from the State Employees’ Retirement System.

The retirement board had granted the request, but disclosure was put on hold while the university appealed.

“We hold that the public does in fact have a right to such information to the extent necessary to justify all guaranteed disbursements from the fund,” wrote Justice James J. Fitzgerald III for the majority.

In addition to Paterno, the paper also sought information regarding vice president and provost Rodney Erickson, vice president and treasurer Gary Schultz and former budget officer Richard Althouse.

The ruling applies to their names, service histories and salaries but does not include their addresses, phone numbers or Social Security numbers.

Justice Cynthia Baldwin, a Penn State trustee, did not participate in the case.

Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon had no immediate comment Tuesday.

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