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Spanier and other big payouts

Losing the job, yet being paid handsomely to do so. Instead of pay-to-play, it's pay-to-go-away.

Graham Spanier, the embattled former president of Penn State, was the highest paid leader of a public university in 2011, the year he was forced to resign in the wake of the Sandusky scandal.

Spanier's total compensation package was nearly $2.9 million, The Inquirer reports, including $1.2 million in severance.

Stop me if you've read this before.

That money would be partially funded by Pennsylvania taxpayers.

It is reminiscent of the $625,000 that Carl Greene, embattled former president of the Philadelphia Housing Authority was paid in February to go away.

Greene was the nation's highest paid chief of a public housing authority, which serves the city's poorest residents, and was paid 50 percent more than the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Instead of pay-to-play, it's pay-to-go-away. At a very handsome price.

Last month, fired Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice, who hurled balls and homophobic epithets at his players, received a $475,000 payout for the remaining two years of his contract hours after the university president said Rice would not be entitled to severance.

How does this happen? Weak boards and oversight make for overpaid leaders with obscene severance compensation, no matter what the circumstance of their departure. Going forward, boards would serve those insitutions and the public better by demanding strong conditions and designing tougher contracts in calculating severance packages.

--Karen Heller