STATE COLLEGE — Penn State football coach James Franklin isn’t going anywhere soon.
Penn State on Tuesday announced a deal with the eighth-year coach that will keep him in State College through the 2031 season.
“Nine weeks ago, the administration approached me about making a long-term investment in our football program,” Franklin said in a statement. “This prompted numerous conversations outlining the resources needed to be competitive at a level that matches the expectations and history of Penn State. What’s most evident from those conversations is the importance of our student-athletes’ success both on and off the field.”
Franklin’s new deal ensures he will receive $70 million over 10 years. He would be subject to a buyout for nine of those 10 seasons should he voluntarily leave for another coaching position in the collegiate or NFL ranks.
According to the terms of Franklin’s contract, he would be subject to a $12 million buyout before April 1, 2022, and $8 million through Dec. 31, 2022. The buyout would drop to $6 million for the coaching year 2023, and $2 million in the coaching year 2024. Subsequent seasons would carry a $1 million buyout, with exception of 2031, where no buyout terms are in place.
Franklin’s contract extension comes nearly two years after he received a six-year extension that would have expired following the 2025 season.
“With the support of President (Eric) Barron, Sandy Barbour and the Board of Trustees we’ve been able to create a roadmap of the resources needed to address academic support, community outreach, Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), facility improvements, student-athlete housing, technology upgrades, recruiting, training table and more,” Franklin said. “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’s name earlier this season was linked to openings at Southern California and LSU. The Franklin-to-Southern California storyline isn’t new. Franklin has frequently been mentioned in conversations about the Pac-12 program. The Trojans fired coach Clay Helton in September.
“We are excited to have James Franklin lead our football program for a long time,” Barbour, Penn State Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics said in a statement. “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 premier programs in the history of college football.”
Altoona Mirror managing editor Neil Rudel late last week reported Franklin during a meeting with the State College Quarterback Club told attendees he planned to remain at Penn State.
“Another twist to the ongoing James Franklin saga: Franklin got up at the State College Quarterback Club lunch on Wednesday and offered his firmest declaration yet on job speculation, saying ‘I’m not going anywhere.’ The crowd of 175-200 gave him a rousing ovation,” Rudel tweeted last Thursday.
Following last Saturday’s win against Rutgers, Franklin was asked about his comments at the State College Quarterback Club gathering. He didn’t confirm or deny making the comments, but said he wanted to speak about the Rutgers win and save questions regarding his future with the program until this week.
“I’ve tried to tell you guys before, these things are much more complicated than just a simple yes- and no-answers and with me, I just am always trying to be as transparent as possible and tell you guys what I know and when I say something, it’s going to happen,” Franklin said at the time. “If we could wait until Tuesday, I’d appreciate it, but I also understand the question.”
Franklin was hired in 2014 after a three-year stint at Vanderbilt where he guided the program to a 24-15 record.
Franklin, from Langhorne, went 7-6 during his first two seasons in State College before guiding the Nittany Lions to an 11-3 record and a Big Ten championship during the 2016 season. Franklin followed his 2016 season with an 11-3 record and a win in the New Year’s Six Fiesta Bowl in 2017.
The Nittany Lions went 9-4 in 2018, and 11-2 during a 2019 season that included a win in the New Year’s Six Cotton Bowl.
In 2020, the Nittany Lions began the year on a five-game losing streak — the first in school history — before winning their last four to end the year at 4-5.
Penn State is 7-4 through 11 games this season. The Nittany Lions were ranked as high as No. 4 after starting 5-0.
With the Nittany Lions, Franklin has posted a 67-32 overall record, and has gone 42-27 in Big Ten games during his tenure at Penn State.
Penn State closes out the regular season at Michigan State on Saturday.