Since taking over the reins in 2014, James Franklin has made Penn State a consistent force in the Big Ten and ensured a place in the AP Poll at some point in each of the last seven seasons. The result is a contract that gives Franklin a salary and net worth up there with the best in college football alongside financial security in terms of a lucrative buyout clause.
James Franklin’s Salary and Contract in 2023
After guiding the Nittany Lions to three 11-win seasons during the first six years of his tenure, Penn State locked up Franklin with a 10-year contract extension in 2021.
While the contract extension ensured that Penn State has long-term security at head coach, it also made Franklin one of the highest-paid coaches in the Big Ten and college football.
While we’ll get to Franklin’s salary for the 2023 college football campaign, some interesting buyout clauses woven into the Penn State head coach’s contract warrant some attention. The deal is heavily skewed in Franklin’s favor in multiple respects.
Firstly, from 2026 on, it becomes relatively easy for Franklin to buy his way out of his deal if a more attractive job arises elsewhere. His buyout for the 2023 season is $6 million, which drops to $2 million in 2024 and 2025 before flatlining at $1 million from 2026 onwards.
It becomes exceptionally exciting for the Penn State head coach — not for the program — if the Nittany Lions want to relieve Franklin of his duties before the end of his current deal. The university has to pay him his current base salary and supplemental pay multiplied by the remaining contract years.
Let’s use 2023 as an example. Under the terms of his contract extension, Franklin’s salary for the 2023 campaign is $500,000 base and $6.5 million supplemental. The Penn State coach will make at least $7 million in 2023.
If he’s fired during the season, with eight years left on his deal, he’d have a buyout amount of $56 million.
It’s not quite Jimbo Fisher levels of money, but it’s a good chunk of change that gives Franklin salary security and almost ensures job security. It’s simply too expensive to fire him without cause anytime soon.
Franklin’s Net Worth
With a 10-year deal and a salary of $7 million per year, Franklin’s net worth equates to $70 million between 2022 and 2031. However, it isn’t quite as straightforward as that.
There are multiple bonuses that help bolster Franklin’s base salary and net worth. If he sees out the entirety of the 10-year deal, he’ll add an extra $5 million in retention bonus alone. The Penn State head coach receives $500,000 every year he’s on staff on Dec. 31.
There are also lucrative bonuses for on-field success. Sadly, for Franklin and Penn State fans, the chances of adding the Big Ten incentives are diminished by their place alongside Michigan and Ohio State in the Big Ten East.
However, if he can lead the Nittany Lions past the Wolverines and Buckeyes, Franklin can add $250,000 to his salary for appearing in the Big Ten Championship and $350,000 if he brings a Big Ten title to Happy Valley.
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The most substantial bonus that Franklin can bolster his salary with is $800,000 for winning the College Football National Championship.
In addition to the bonus payment, a national title win triggers a supplemental salary increase of $800,000 per year, taking Franklin to an annual salary of $7.8 million for the remaining term of the contract.
Appearing in a New Year’s Six bowl game — as they did in 2022 — nets the Penn State head coach $300,000. Any other bowl game appearance still commands a $200,000 bonus.
Finally, Franklin can add $250,000 to his salary if he’s named both the Big Ten Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year. In 2016, he earned three separate national recognitions, including the Woody Hayes Trophy.