Penn State’s James Franklin agrees to 10-year, $75M extension

Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State football coach James Franklin agreed to a new 10-year contract that will guarantee him at least $75 million through 2031.

Franklin and Penn State’s Board of Trustees agreed to the terms, which include a yearly base salary of $7 million, retention bonuses of $500,000 each year and a $1 million annual loan for life insurance.

Franklin is 67-32 at Penn State with seven bowl appearances in his eight seasons. The Nittany Lions won the Big Ten championship in 2016.

A Pennsylvania native who called the Penn State gig his “dream job” when he was hired away from Vanderbilt in 2014 will coach his 100th game at Penn State when the Nittany Lions visit No. 12 Michigan State on Saturday.

Franklin previously signed a six-year deal in 2019. The terms of that contract would’ve had him earn $5.75 million next season with a $250,000 raise each remaining year.

“Nine weeks ago, the administration approached me about making a long-term investment in our football program,” Franklin said in a release provided by the athletic department. “This prompted numerous conversations outlining the resources needed to be competitive at a level that matches the expectations and history of Penn State. What’s most evident from those conversations is the importance of our student-athletes’ success both on and off the field.”

Franklin had been asked multiple times this season about his name surfacing as a candidate for other jobs, notably LSU and USC, and he never outright shot them down. This contract makes leaving Happy Valley a much more expensive proposition for the 49-year-old.

Should Franklin leave for another college or NFL coaching job before April 1, 2022, he would owe Penn State $12 million. If he leaves between that date and Dec. 31, he’d owe $8 million. The buyout decreases to $6 million in 2023, to $2 million the next two years and $1 million each year thereafter.

Although he didn’t point to specifics when asked at his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Franklin has long hinted he’d like to see Penn State upgrade some of its more antiquated facilities.

“We have made, and will need to continue to make, significant investment in our football program because we believe we have a very bright future under James,” Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said. “With this contract, we are signaling our sustained commitment to being one of the premiere programs in the history of college football. Our goals and aspirations relating to football have never wavered and our investments today and in the future of our program will allow us to compete at the highest level.”

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.