James Franklin has agreed to a new 10-year, $70 million contract with Penn State, ending months of speculation about his future and removing himself as a candidate for other college football coaching jobs.
The contract further includes $1.5 million in additional guarantees (a $500,000 annual retention bonus and $1 million via a life insurance loan) that would bring its total guaranteed value to $85 million. Franklin could earn an additional $1 million in annual performance incentives as well.
"Penn State's future is bright, and I'm honored to continue to serve as your head football coach," Franklin said in a statement. "Nine weeks ago, the administration approached me about making a long-term investment in our football program. 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."
The contract, Franklin's fourth at Penn State, represents a $1.1 million annual increase in guaranteed compensation over his previous six-year deal, which he signed in December 2019. That contract ran through the 2025 season.
But unlike that contract, this 10-year deal provides no annual salary escalation. Franklin's annual guaranteed compensation is $7 million per year.
"We are excited to have James Franklin lead our football program for a long time," Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour 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 premiere programs in the history of college football. Our goals and aspirations relating to football have never wavered and our investments today and in the future of our program will allow us to compete at the highest level."
Franklin's new contract ended a near season-long stretch of speculation that tied him to jobs at USC, LSU and the newly opened position at Florida, which fired Dan Mullen on Sunday. During that time, Franklin declared his "commitment" to Penn State while pointing to the complicated process of contract negotiations.
"I am fiercely loyal to Penn State," Franklin said this fall. "I am fiercely loyal, most importantly, to these players and the staff. But there's a lot of moving parts with all of these things."
In the release, Franklin mentioned a "renewed commitment" to the program that has included, and will include, more resources for academic support, facility improvements, technology upgrades and more.
"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 statement said. "Throughout this process I've kept our leadership council, recruits and staff updated on those conversations and I'm excited we've reached an agreement we can finally share with you."
Franklin did not discuss specifics about the contract Tuesday afternoon at his weekly press conference, which occurred before the Penn State Board of Trustees' compensation subcommittee met to approve the deal. Franklin will be available after practice Wednesday.
However, Franklin did reiterate some longstanding general points he has made about program resources. Franklin has said for years that Penn State fell behind its competitors in the facilities and staff-spending race.
In 2018, Franklin referred to an internal study that found Penn State ranked second-last in the Big Ten in capital spending for football during the eight years prior to his first season in 2014.
"I’ve said it really since I got here: We have to compete the 364 other days a year with everything. Everything matters," Franklin said. "... I’ve had very, very honest conversations. All the way back to year one, we’ve been talking about these things.
"We’ve made great strides, and I don’t want it to come off the wrong way. I’m very appreciative of the strides we’ve made, but there was a long period of time where we did nothing and it put us behind, and we’ve been playing catch-up."
For context, here's a look at James Franklin's contract history at Penn State.
Franklin signed a six-year contract that guaranteed him $25.5 million. It began with a $4 million salary in 2014, increasing by $100,000 annually through the 2019 season. It also included $2.25 in annual retention bonuses, paid on Dec. 31 of each year, and up to $1 million in annual performance bonuses.
The contract further included a $10,0000 annual car allowance and up to 35 hours per year in personal use of a private aircraft.
After winning the Big Ten title in 2016, Franklin signed his second six-year contract worth a guaranteed $32 million and a peak annual salary of $6.25 million. The contract also included $2.7 million in annual retention bonuses, up to $1 million annually in performances bonuses, a $10,000 annual car allowance and up to 50 hours per year in personal use of a private plane.
Before playing Memphis in the Cotton Bowl, Penn State and Franklin announced a third six-year deal that ran through the 2025 season. This contract, which ends Dec. 31, guaranteed Franklin $35.4 million, with a peak annual salary of $6.5 million in 2025.
The contract further included a total of $2.8 million in annual retention bonuses and another $1 million per year in a life insurance loan. The $1 million in incentive bonuses remained, as did the car allowance and the 50 hours of private-plane use.