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James Franklin will get healthy salary bump under new contract extension at Penn State

JOSH MOYER
Centre Daily Times (TNS)
James Franklin

Two months after James Franklin’s contract extension was announced, the terms have finally been released.

Penn State’s football coach will make at least $38.2 million over six years, including total guaranteed compensation and retention bonuses, according to details released by the athletic department Wednesday morning. His buyout will start at $5 million this season and will decrease by $1 million each season thereafter, so $4 million in 2021, $3 million in 2022, etc.

He will not have a buyout in the final year of his contract in 2025.

Franklin’s six-year extension was first approved by the board of trustees’ Committee on Compensation on Dec. 6. Athletic Director Sandy Barbour told reporters later that month she expected the terms to be released shortly after the NCAA title game on Jan. 13, but they were instead released six weeks later, on Wednesday.

Franklin said earlier this month he would not characterize that as a delay.

“As you can imagine, these contracts aren’t like three pages of notes,” Franklin said. “So it’s about language, about making sure what Penn State is comfortable with, what we’re comfortable with, and that takes time.

Including the retention bonuses, if Franklin coaches the length of his contract, he will make an annual average of $583,000 more compared to his last contract. However, that doesn’t include new perks such as a $1 million annual life insurance loan.

How the deal rates nationally: According to USA Today’s coaches’ salary database, if the loan does not count toward total pay, Franklin’s new contract won’t push him up or down the list based on last season’s numbers. His total pay this season ($5.7M) would still rank him No. 11 nationally, behind Florida’s Dan Mullen ($6.07M) and ahead of Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald ($5.14M).

Franklin remains the third-highest paid coach in the Big Ten, behind Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($8.85M) and Purdue’s Jeff Brohm ($6.6M).

“We wanted to make a strong pledge to James and this program with this new contract,” Barbour said in December, when the extension was first announced.

Franklin is due a $300,000 retention bonus on Dec. 31, 2020, and that will rise to $500,000 in each subsequent year. He is due $35.4 million over six years in total guaranteed compensation and $2.8 million in retention bonuses. He is set to make at least $7 million in the final year of his contract.

The incentives: Like his previous contract, Franklin can also earn up to $1 million in incentives each season. Among those incentives are:

►$150,000: Win/ties for division title but does not play in conference championship

►$250,000: Appearance in Big Ten championship game

►$350,000: Win Big Ten championship

►$800,000: Win national championship

►$500,000: Runner-up for national championship

►$400,000: Make four-team playoff

►$300,000: Make a New Year’s Six game not in the playoff

►$200,000: Appearance in any other bowl

►$100,000: Win Big Ten Coach of the Year

►$150,000: Win National Coach of the Year

Other benefits: Other benefits include a $10,000 yearly allowance for a vehicle, or a vehicle through a Dealer Car Program. Franklin can also use up to 50 hours per calendar year for a private aircraft for personal use.

Based on the new contract, Franklin can earn up to $6.7 million this season, not including benefits like his life insurance loan.

If the university would fire the head coach without cause, it will owe him what he’s due to make in guaranteed compensation that year, plus the $1 million life insurance loan, multiplied by the remaining years in his contract.

Franklin first arrived in Happy Valley in 2014, succeeding Bill O’Brien. During his six seasons at Penn State, he has guided the Nittany Lions to a 56-23 overall record, six straight bowl berths, three New Year’s Six bowls and four straight top-20 rankings.

The 2020 season kicks off at home Sept. 5 against Kent State.