PHILADELPHIA (CN) - Penn State University turned two football coaches into pariahs, including fabled coach Joe Paterno's son Jay Paterno, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, and they were met with "disdain and disinterest" when they applied to other football programs, the coaches claimed Monday in a federal lawsuit.
Jay Paterno, Penn State's former quarterbacks coach, and former offensive coach Bill Kenney say they were sucked into the fallout of the scandal when they were fired in January 2012 during the investigation of the Sandusky scandal conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh on behalf of the NCAA.
Firing them in the midst of the investigation "had the effect of branding and stigmatizing plaintiffs as participants in the Sandusky scandal," though they were not involved in it, they say in the 41-page lawsuit.
Paterno and Kenney claim that that Penn State's acceptance of the Freeh report was "an unreliable rush to judgment."
The lawsuit challenges the reliability of the Freeh Report, and claims that "there is no evidence that Joe Paterno, or any other Penn State assistant football coach, covered up known incidents of child molestation by Sandusky to protect Penn State football, to avoid bad publicity or for any other reason."
In the consent decree issued after the Freeh Report, the university said: "Some coaches, administrators, and football program staff members ignored the red flags of Sandusky's behavior and no one warned the public about him," a statement that implicated both Paterno and Kenney, the former coaches say.
Kenney, a 27-year veteran of Division I football, claims that since then he has been denied multiple offers at the collegiate and professional levels.
Jay Paterno, who had worked for Penn State for 21 years, applied for head coaching jobs at the University of Connecticut, James Madison University, Boston College and the University of Colorado and was not offered an interview at any of them, he says.
They seek punitive damages for civil conspiracy, intentional interference with prospective contractual relations, civil rights violations and violations of Pennsylvania employment law.
The only defendant is The Pennsylvania State University.
Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years in prison for child molestation.
Joe Paterno was fired in November 2011, after the Sandusky scandal made world headlines. He died two months later.
Jay Paterno and Kenney are represented by Maurice Mitts and Edward Mazurek, both of Philadelphia.