State College, Pa. — Penn State coach James Franklin has signed a contract extension that guarantees him $34.7 million through 2022.
According to terms released by Penn State on Friday, the deal is worth an average of $5.78 million annually and contains up to $1 million in incentive bonuses each year. The extension modifies the initial six-year contract Franklin signed when he was hired in 2014. That contract was to pay him $4.6 million this year.
After back-to-back 7-6 seasons in Franklin’s first two years in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions won the Big Ten last year. Penn State finished 11-3 and No. 6 in the country after starting 2-2, capping the program’s best season in the post-Joe Paterno era with a 52-49 loss to Southern California in the Rose Bowl.
A blowout loss to Michigan last September had Penn State fans doubting Franklin’s ability to turn around a program that was still recovering from NCAA sanctions brought on by the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Athletic director Sandy Barbour was even compelled to give Franklin a public vote of confidence.
Less than a year later, Franklin has a contract that by annual average compensation puts him behind only Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Jim Harbaugh of Michigan among Big Ten coaches.
According to the USA Today coaches’ salary data base, Harbaugh, Meyer and Nick Saban were the only coaches who made more than $6 million before bonuses in 2016. Four other coaches made at least $5 million.
Franklin’s deal would push him over the $5 million mark in 2019 and reach $6.25 million in 2022, plus a $1 million retention bonus.
The deal has been in the works for months. It was given approval by the Board of Trustees on Friday.
“I am pleased with the progress our program has made in the community, in the classroom and on the field,” Franklin said in a statement. “I look forward to diligently working with President (Eric) Barron and Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour on implementing a plan that puts our University and our student-athletes in the best position to compete on the field and in life.”
Franklin replaced Paterno’s successor, Bill O’Brien, in 2014. The Pennsylvania native was 24-15 in three seasons at Vanderbilt before taking the Penn State job.
Last season, the Nittany Lions responded from a ragged and injury-filled start with a nine-game winning streak that included a come-from-behind victory in the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin. Franklin was Big Ten coach of the year.
“James and his staff have done an exceptional job with our football student-athletes and in all aspects of the football program,” Barbour said. “His values are Penn State’s values and they resonate throughout every member of the organization and team he has built.”