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Ex-Penn State assistant coaches sue for $1 million

By Holly Yan and Tina Burnside, CNN
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1148 GMT (1948 HKT)
Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno died on January 22. He was 85. The legendary coach, seen here in 1988, was fired in November 2011 during his 46th season at the helm of the Nittany Lions program. Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno died on January 22. He was 85. The legendary coach, seen here in 1988, was fired in November 2011 during his 46th season at the helm of the Nittany Lions program.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney say they were unfairly linked to the Sandusky scandal
  • Head coach Joe Paterno was fired amid the Sandusky child molestation scandal
  • The new head coach did not keep Jay Paterno and Kinney on his staff
  • Lawsuit: The plaintiffs "have been denied lucrative employment opportunities"

(CNN) -- A pair of former Penn State assistant football coaches, including the son of the late head football coach Joe Paterno, have filed a federal lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages from the university.

The suit claims that plaintiffs Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney were unfairly linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal, which eventually led to the firing of Joe Paterno. Jay Paterno and Kenney were also dismissed from their coaching positions.

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"Penn State reacted in mid-January 2012 with rashness and without basis by prematurely releasing from Penn State's employment the majority of the Penn State football coaching staff, including the employment of (Jay) Paterno and Kenney," the complaint states.

After Joe Paterno's firing in November 2011, new head coach Bill O'Brien decided not to retain Jay Paterno and Kenney on his staff.

Since their dismissal in January 2012, the lawsuit claims, Jay Paterno and Kenney "have been denied lucrative employment opportunities based upon the false light and association by innuendo."

The two are seeking $1 million in damages "in compensation for their emotional distress, humiliation, loss of reputation and status in the community of their respective peers, and the loss of their ability to provide for themselves," the complaint states.

They also want Penn State "to issue a public statement confirming that neither of plaintiffs committed any wrongdoing or impropriety of any kind in connection with the crimes and misconduct of Sandusky, and/or Penn State's handling of Sandusky's crimes and misconduct in any way, shape or form."

Penn State issued a statement Tuesday saying "it is common practice for incoming head coaches to select their own coaching staff," according to PennLive.com.

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