UNIVERSITY PARK — James Franklin is Penn State’s 16th head football coach.
The former Vanderbilt coach was announced Saturday during a brief teleconference for a group of Penn State trustees to approve his contract. The details of Franklin’s deal are expected to be announced later Saturday, though news reports have said he could make up to $4.5 million a year.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to come home,” Franklin said in a statement. “I grew up watching Penn State football, and now to be at the helm of such a storied program is a tremendous honor. It’s important to me to be a part of a university that strives for excellence in everything they do.”
Penn State said it will introduce Franklin to the campus during a 4:15 p.m. news conference at Beaver Stadium.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt reporters tweeted photos of Franklin arriving on the school’s Nashville campus to address his former team.
Franklin comes to Penn State after Bill O’Brien left last week to take over the head coaching job of the NFL’s Houston Texans.
A native of Langhorne and former East Stroudsburg University quarterback, Franklin spent three years in Nashville where he led the Commodores to a 24-15 record, including a 9-4 record this past season.
“Coach Franklin’s record of success is extraordinary, but even more impressive is his passion for not only the game of football, but also creating an atmosphere in which student-athletes can succeed,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement. “His character, work ethic, values and knowledge of the game make him an outstanding fit for our program and to lead our student-athletes.”
The search for a new coach was handled by a six-member committee led by Director of Athletics Dave Joyner.
“We launched this search with several priorities, but our primary focus was to identify someone who shared our commitment to integrity, academics and winning championships,” Joyner said in a statement. “We have found that person in James Franklin. Coach Franklin is a highly regarded coach and tremendous leader, but more importantly, he shares the same vision for Penn State Football that we, and our fans, have for the program.
“His record shows that he takes great pride in the academic and athletic success of his student-athletes. We’re thrilled to welcome Coach Franklin to Penn State.”
Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams said Franklin notified him of his decision Friday night. In a statement, Williams said Franklin’s “outstanding work has helped put Vanderbilt football on the national stage.”
Nittany Lion players reacted on Twitter to Franklin’s hiring.
Running back Akeel Lynch wrote “Congratulation to Coach James Franklin! Excited to get started! #WeStillAre.” Cornerback Da’Quan Davis tweeted “Welcome coach Franklin to the PSU family excited about moving forward, let’s work! #WeAre.”
Not all people in the Penn State community were excited. On Friday, a Penn State faculty member floated a petition on Change.org asking the trustees to reconsider hiring Franklin because players on the Vanderbilt football team were accused of rape.
Associate professor Michelle Rodino-Colocino said the university “should stand up for human rights.” Vanderbilt dismissed those players from the team after the allegation.
CDT reporter Mike Dawson contributed reporting.
Check back for updates.