James Franklin won’t be going anywhere soon after signing a new 10-year contract that will keep him in State College until 2031. Penn State announced the new deal on Tuesday evening ahead of the Nittany Lions’ final regular season game against Michigan State in East Lansing.
For both Penn State and Franklin the commitment provides not only a gesture of security and stability but a financial one as well with some of the largest buyouts of Franklin’s tenure locking him into place and a massive check to Franklin is he is fired without cause.
Under his newly inked agreement, Franklin’s buyout sits at a whopping $12 million until 4/1/22 which effectively takes him off the market if any lurking programs were hoping to swoop in over the coming months. Following the expiration of that deadline, Franklin’s buyout will be $8 million for the remainder of the 2022 calendar year.
In 2023 Franklin and any suitors would face a buyout of $6 million. In 2024 and 2025 the buyout sits at $2 million per year before dropping to a million dollars for the next five years of the deal. The final 2031 season has no associated buyout.
Previously Franklin had never had a buyout larger than $5 million with his current buyout sitting at $4 million set to drop to $3 million under his most recent agreement.
The length of Franklin’s contract also provides him with a significant amount of job security if the Nittany Lions were to struggle at all in the coming seasons. Penn State will owe – as was the case under previous contracts – Franklin his base pay, supplemental pay and annual life insurance loan multiplied by the remaining years on his contract.
Franklin’s base and supplemental pay works out to $7 million per year while his life insurance loan is one million per year. In total Franklin would be owed $8 million times the remaining years on his contract if Penn State were to fire him without cause.
In turn at the midway point of his contract, Penn State would have to pay Franklin some $40 million to pay off the final five years of his tenure.
As for Franklin’s buyout figures, they are as follows. Ultimately the dynamic gives Franklin far more freedom to leave following the 2023 season and Penn State far less incentive to ever really fire him without cause.
Beyond changes to his buyout terms, Franklin’s performance bonuses are unchanged from his previous deal, although Franklin does receive five additional hours of private aircraft use per year, which brings his total to 55 hours. That figure is 20 more than his initial deal in 2014.