Could Jerry Falwell Receive $10.5 Million In Severance From Liberty University After Scandal?

download-2We recently discussed the scandals surrounding Jerry Falwell Jr. from his use of a personal yacht of a Nascar mogul to the sordid allegations stemming from an affair by his wife, Becki. After resigning from his position at Liberty University, Falwell quoted Martin Luther King: “The quote that keeps going through my mind this morning is Martin Luther King Jr: ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last.'” It may be a moment of freedom for Falwell but it will hardly be free for Liberty University which promised “full compensation” that could reportedly reach $10.5 million.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Falwell is looking at the windfall severance package including $2.5 million for two years of his salary plus a one-time payment of roughly $8 million. That latter amount is based on a contractual clause giving Falwell full pay if he resigned with restricted responsibilities.

Falwell insists “I didn’t break any rules—I get my compensation.” That would depend on the conditions of his contract. Many employment contracts have provisions concerning actions that bring controversy or ridicule upon the organization or business. However, even discounting the sex scandal, Falwell is accused of a sweetheart deal with a Nascar mogul who received lucrative contracts from Liberty University while giving the Falwell family use of his luxury yacht.  Given Falwell’s treatment of the university as a personal fiefdom, it would not be surprising if his contract is devoid of such limits or conditions.

I have been a long critic of the contracts for university presidents, which can reach obscene levels of compensation and benefits.

The answer to the question above is that it is indeed possible because of the historic abuse of such contracts.  As I said in 2004, university presidents often handpick board members and then gradually increase their benefits and compensation.  There is little scrutiny of such packages and part of my criticism of the recent effort to disband the National Rifle Association is the selective focus by prosecutors.

If a multi-million compensation package is approved by the Board, every member of the board of trustees should resign in disgrace. They have stood by as Falwell careened from one scandal to another. This record shows that his interests were treated as paramount rather than those of the institution, its faculty, its staff, or its students. The only positive aspect of this scandal would be if the Falwell contract led to a broader debate over the salaries and contracts afforded to academic presidents and those heading nonprofit organizations across the country.


61 thoughts on “Could Jerry Falwell Receive $10.5 Million In Severance From Liberty University After Scandal?”

  1. Although I am an atheist, it is not shocking academic deep thinker (sarc) Turley chooses this dirty laundry article to comment on. It is easy to see how this effects all of our lives directly (more sarc) Let me do a search and see if there were any Turley articles about any congresswomen marrying their brothers.

  2. I wish you would write a column here covering the constitutional topic on what happens on 1/20/21 if the results of the presidential election has not been determined yet.

  3. I run as fast as can the other way, when someone tells me they are the only ones who can save my soul, but only if I give them lots of money.

    1. Rummage through their public statements over a period of 60 years. You won’t find one occasion where Jerry Falwell or his sons said anything resembling that.

  4. Although a supporter of religious freedom & freedom from religion and not a fan of Falwell’s “theocratic” pursuits (imposing religion on Americans using taxpayer money and government authority) – Falwell May be on solid ground legally, constitutionally and some interpretations of Christianity. Christianity itself can be interpreted either by the actual wording in the Bible (not ever spoken Or written by Jesus) or by the actual words of Jesus himself which contradicts much of what the Bible says. Some books and phrases of the Bible are missing altogether or were written decades after-the-fact. Modern American marriage doesn’t precisely follow Old Testament marriage. There are multiple versions of the Ten Commandments. Not sure Falwell violated most interpretations of Christianity. There are also various religious denominations – each denomination or sect has different interpretations.
    For example: the Old Testament required the groom’s family to pay the wife’s family with cattle, pigs and other livestock. The Old Testament also allowed polygamy and incest.

    Not sure Falwell violated any laws. Not sure he violated the university’s moral code either (usually based on one’s interpretation of Christianity). The United States, compared to many nations, has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. Falwell seems to embrace a more foreign model of marriage, by predominantly Christian nations. If it is all consenting adults, who are we to judge?

    The big question is, what if Obama or Bill Clinton did this? Would Falwell’s supporters bear true witness and apply the same religious interpretation to them?

  5. Falwell is accused of a sweetheart deal

    Again, you ought to know better than that. Remember Falwell Sr.’s campaign against Tinky Winky? No, you don’t because it never happened. The campaign was fabricated by the Washington Post. The excuse for this fabrication was Falwell’s response when asked (by a Katie Graham minion) about the Teletubbies TV program, of which, until the reporter asked him, he’d never heard. The media have been lying about the Falwell’s for a long time.

  6. Falwell using a contractor’s yacht? Oh heavens! Can it be? Never happens in corporate America. And his wife in an affair? Holy Sunny Von Bulow!. Another anomaly in the secular sector? It’s a private business. His old man built the place and did a damn fine job. It’s a great school with a fabulous campus, Give him his money.

    Oh these progressive Puritans are insufferable.

    1. The professors complaint about business man’s entertainment is twee. Without a doubt, the President of GW accepts such invitations. The problem here is not that he accepted an invitation, but that did clownish things at the gathering. He runs an evangelical apostolate.

      Liberty is fairly unremarkable for its rigor and selectivity. However, it is a remarkable bit of institution building. Law and convention in Virginia have been such that the private sector in higher education has been truncated. The only private institutions where I’m from which have a brick-and-mortar enrollment like Liberty’s were founded around 1860.

    2. tFawell was removed from his position by “the university’s conservative board of trustees, handpicked for their loyalty to Mr. Falwell and his father, Jerry Falwell Sr.” What does that have to do with progressive puritans? Nothing. Liberty is a religious institution, private as mespo points out, and they can fire an employee for making a mockery of their religious standards if they choose. I hope he keaves empty-handed.

      1. His severance settlement would be incorporated into his contract. What you should hope is that the provisions regarding severance were drafted and approved by people with a regard for appearances.

        It’s not clear that Falwell, Jr made a ‘mockery’ of anything. However, the whole mise en scene is undignified enough that it’s appropriate to tell him to go unless you cannot find anyone to fill his shoes. The quality of leadership in the evangelical world is not improving. You get goofballs like Russell Moore.

  7. Thirty Years ago I took some tests at Liberty.
    I was impressed how Falwell had built the university.
    What is happening is a real shame, but Falwell groveling for lucre after all lucre he raised is very sad.

  8. Professor Turley, you brought MLK in and denied MLK to the defense.

    You will lose on appeal.

    More censorship on the Turley Blog?

    Shall we deny freedom of speech, the facts and the truth in one fell swoop?

  9. “The only positive aspect of this scandal would be if the Falwell contract led to a broader debate over the salaries and contracts afforded to academic presidents and those heading nonprofit organizations across the country.”

    It’d be even better if the brain donors who blamed Hurricane Katrina on the supposed sins of people living in and near New Orleans reflected how tropical storms where theylive could just as easily be blamed on the Falwells’ sexual behavior

    But that would require humility, intellectual honesty and intelligence on the part of Jerry Falwell and his family, and those who gave them millions of dollars.

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