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Franklin inks 10-year deal with Penn State

Penn State coach James Franklin reacts during the team's NCAA college football game against Rutgers in State College, Pa., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Penn State won 28-0. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

When James Franklin finally ended speculation on his future by telling the State College Quarterback Club last week that “I’m not going anywhere,” he wasn’t kidding.

Penn State announced late Tuesday afternoon that Franklin has agreed to a 10-year contract, through 2031, at $7 million per season.

He had previously signed an extension, through 2025, in February of 2020.

Franklin avoided confirmation on the topic on Saturday afternoon after the Lions defeated Rutgers and then again Tuesday during his regularly scheduled press conference in order that the university could announce it after a meeting of the Board of Trustees compensation committee.

“Penn State’s future is bright, and I’m honored to continue to serve as your head football coach,” Franklin said.

Franklin, 49, will coach his 100th game with the Nittany Lions on Saturday at Michigan State (3:30 p.m., ABC).

He said the university approached him “nine weeks ago about a long-term investment.”

Franklin’s new agent, Jimmy Sexton, did the rest and the Lions’ leader will now become the Big Ten’s highest paid coach and the ninth-highest in the country, according to USA Today.

Franklin is 67-32 in his eighth season and won the Big Ten title in 2016.

Sandy Barbour, PSU athletic director, called Franklin “a tremendous leader.”

“We are excited to have James Franklin lead our football program for a long time,” Barbour said. “We will continue our collective efforts to constantly improve in all aspects of our program. We have made, and will need to continue to make, significant investment in our football program because we believe we have a very bright future under James. With this contract, we are signaling our sustained commitment to being one of the premiere programs in the history of college football.”

Franklin has been challenging the university for the past several years on improving its overall facilities and has been especially outspoken this year. The topic came up again Tuesday, and he said, “For a long time, we did nothing.”

The extension includes what Franklin called “a roadmap of the resources needed.”

Among them are improvements in academic support, community outreach, Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), facility improvements, student-athlete housing, technology upgrades, recruiting and training table and more.

The university approved a $48.3 million renovation to the Lasch Building this past spring.

“This renewed commitment to our student-athletes, community and fans reinforces all the reasons I’ve been proud to serve as your head football coach for the last eight years and why my commitment to Penn State remains steadfast,” Franklin said.

Outgoing Penn State president Eric Barron said Franklin’s success goes beyond the field. Barron is retiring in June of 2022, and Franklin is on the selection committee for his successor.

“Penn State is very happy to offer this extension to Coach Franklin, who has created an environment in which our student-athletes can be successful on the field, as well as leaders in our community and beyond,” Barron said. “As head coach, James continues to build the Nittany Lion football program even while navigating a number of exceptional challenges, including COVID-19 and a shift in amateurism rules in college sports. We look forward to his sustained success, his pursuit of excellence and his remaining an integral part of Penn State football and our university.”

Incentives beyond his base salary include $800,000 for winning the national title, $350 for winning the Big Ten title game and $150,000 for being national coach of the year.

Buyouts are a big part of college contracts, particularly high-profile coaches.

Franklin’s buyout, should he leave before April 1, 2022, is $12 million. It drops to $8 if he departs before the end of 2022 and begins to descend from there, going to $6 million in 2023, then $2 million in 2024 and ’25 and $1 million thereafter.

Penn State’s buyout, should it fire Franklin without cause, is $8 million multiplied by the number of remaining years on Franklin’s deal.

Franklin’s contract also includes an annual $1 million life insurance loan and 55 hours of private plane usage each year.

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