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Penn State coach James Franklin agrees to new 6-year contract as head football coach

The agreement comes a little more than a week after Franklin, who is in his sixth year coaching the Nittany Lions, was linked to the coaching vacancy at Florida State.

James Franklin is 55-23 since he was hired at Penn State in 2014.
James Franklin is 55-23 since he was hired at Penn State in 2014.Read moreBarry Reeger / AP

James Franklin has agreed to the terms of a new six-year contract to continue as Penn State’s head football coach through 2025.

The new agreement for Franklin was approved Friday by the Penn State board of trustees’ compensation committee.

Franklin had been under contract through the 2022 season before the new deal, which extends him for three more seasons, was announced. Under terms of the current contract, he was earning a salary of $5.65 million this season, third in the Big Ten behind Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($7.5 million) and Purdue’s Jeff Brohm ($6.6 million).

In announcing Franklin’s new deal, a university statement said terms of the contract “will be released upon execution of the agreement in the near future, in accordance with past practice.”

Franklin, 48, who is from Langhorne and graduated from Neshaminy High School, has compiled a 55-23 record with the Nittany Lions since taking over in 2014, including a Big Ten championship in 2016. He led Penn State to a 10-2 record this season, including a 7-2 mark and a second-place finish in the Big Ten East.

The Nittany Lions will learn their bowl destination Sunday, and it could be their third New Year’s 6 bowl in the last four years. This will be Franklin’s ninth bowl game, counting three at Vanderbilt and six at Penn State, in his nine seasons as a head coach.

“It’s not often a coach gets an opportunity to move back to their home state and coach the team they grew up watching,” Franklin said in a statement. “It’s even more rare that it’s a school as rich in history and tradition as Penn State. It’s been an honor and a privilege to be the head coach of the Penn State football program for the past six years.”

The new agreement came a little more than a week after reports surfaced that Franklin had spoken to officials at Florida State about its head coaching position, and that the two sides had “mutual interest.” Franklin also had been linked to reports that he’d be offered the Southern California job if head coach Clay Helton was let go.

After the final game of the regular season, a 27-6 win over Rutgers last Saturday, Franklin addressed the speculation in general terms.

“There is nobody that would want this not to be talked about more than me,” he said. “I’m hoping this is going to be over very quickly. I love Penn State. I love our players. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

“It’s a little bit of the nature of college football, but I love Penn State. I love what we’re doing here. Hopefully all this conversation will be over very shortly.”

Sandy Barbour, Penn State’s vice president of athletics, said the new contract makes “a strong pledge to James and this program."

“We are thrilled to have James as the head of our football program,” she said. “James came to Penn State with a very clear vision and we have seen that grow and prosper. What he has done to bring success to our program, both on and off the field, has been nothing short of spectacular.”

Franklin’s winning percentage of .788 (41-11) since 2016 is third among active coaches, behind Dabo Swinney of Clemson and Nick Saban of Alabama. The Nittany Lions are one of five teams to be ranked in the top 12 of the final College Football Playoff rankings in each of the last four years.

Penn State president Eric Barron said Franklin “has established important standards of excellent and academic achievement for our student-athletes."

“I’m pleased we can look forward to more years of service and accomplishment with James at the helm of our football program,” Barron said. “I’m confident his teams will continue to achieve great success on and off the field.”