Last December, amidst rumors that he could be looking to leave Happy Valley, it was confirmed that James Franklin had signed a six-year contract to remain on as the Penn State football head coach. Two months later, the contract terms have been released.
Over each of the next six years, Franklin will be paid a base salary of $500,000. In the first year of the new deal, and with supplemental pay, life insurance loan and a $300,000 retention bonus, payable on Dec. 31, factored in, Franklin will make a total of $6.7 million. According to the USA Today coaching salary database, Franklin earned $5.65 million in total compensation last year. That number made him the second-highest-paid head coach in the Big Ten, behind only Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($7.5 million).
Franklin’s total guaranteed compensation to remain as the Penn State football head coach, minus retention bonus and life insurance, for the remainder of the contract is as follows:
Over the last five years of the deal, Franklin will also be due an annual retention bonus of $500,000, payable on Dec. 31 of each year. Franklin could also earn a $350,000 bonus for winning a conference championship and $800,000 for claiming a national title.
On top of that, Franklin will receive a $1 million loan annually toward life insurance, as well as 50 hours per year for the personal use of a private aircraft
If he were to be fired without cause, Franklin would be owed his base salary plus his supplemental pay plus the loan times the number of years remaining on the contract. For example, if Franklin were to be fired following the 2020 season, Penn State would owe the coach $35 million. That number would then drop to $28.5 million in 2021 and $21.75 million in 2022.
Conversely, Franklin would owe the university $5 million if he leaves for another job at any point this year. That number drops by $1 million each of the next five years.
The 48-year-old Franklin just completed his sixth season as the Penn State football head coach. In that span, the Nittany Lions have gone 56-23 overall and 34-18 in Big Ten play. Three times (2016, 2017, 2019), PSU has won 11 games under Franklin. Each of those seasons, they ended the year playing in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Penn State football has finished no worse than third in the Big Ten East the past four seasons. They have also gone 3-3 in bowl games under Franklin, including a win in the highest-scoring Cotton Bowl game ever.