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Buyout Details of James Franklin's New Contract

Franklin can take another job in 2024 for $2 million. Meanwhile, Penn State faces a costly termination process.

Penn State would owe James Franklin $56 million to terminate him without cause in 2024, while Franklin would owe the university $2 million to leave for another job the same year, according to the buyout terms of his new contract.

Franklin and Penn State agreed to a new 10-year contract worth a guaranteed $70 million that includes multiple incentive clauses. Franklin will make an additional $1.5 million annually in incentives and can make up to $1 million per year in performance bonuses. The contract also makes it costly for Penn State to fire Franklin for performance reasons.

According to the buyout terms, Penn State would owe Franklin $8 million (his guaranteed salary plus a $1 million loan for life insurance) times the number of remaining years on the contract if it terminates him without cause.

As a result, Penn State's buyout is $72 million in 2022, $64 million in 2023 and $56 million in 2024. Even after five years, Franklin's termination buyout is $40 million. The term sheet Penn State released does not include whether those numbers can be mitigated or negotiated.

Conversely, if Franklin leaves for another NFL or college coaching position, he would owe Penn State these annual buyout totals:

  • 2022: $12 million until April 1, $8 million after April 1
  • 2023: $6 million
  • 2024: $2 million
  • 2026-30: $1 million
  • 2031: No buyout

The termination-with-cause terms are the same that Franklin has in his current contract, which began in 2020. Franklin's buyout for taking another job was $4 million this year, with $1 million annual reductions until there was no buyout in 2025.

The new contract takes effect Jan. 1.

"James has been a tremendous leader, providing a Penn State standard of care and attention to all aspects of growth and development for our student-athletes," Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour said in a statement. "Our young men have benefited from his guidance academically, socially and athletically.

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"I'm thrilled James has committed to Penn State and to providing that leadership for years to come. I'm looking forward to years of impact for students, for our community and for our football program under his leadership and to the Franklin family remaining valued and prominent members of our community. I know there will be much success ahead for our football program with Coach Franklin at the helm."

Penn State President Eric Barron, who is retiring next year, praised Franklin's work in guiding the program over the past two years of change.

"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 in a statement. "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."

Penn State hosts Michigan State on Saturday. The game will be Franklin's 100th as Penn State's head coach.

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