A new Penn State athletic leader: Why was Patrick Kraft the pick?
Penn State's new athletic director is a proven college football man.
While Patrick Kraft, 43, also checks boxes for experience, fundraising expertise and regional fit, he ultimately may be judged on helping to shepherd the university's bell-cow football program.
His hire was confirmed by university officials Friday morning.
The veteran AD has already overseen impressive football efforts at Boston College and Temple and also played the sport at Indiana in the Big Ten. He will take over Penn State's duties by the summer for retiring AD Sandy Barbour. The hire has been described by head football coach James Franklin as "critical" for the athletic department and football program.
In his two years leading Boston College's program, Kraft hired a head basketball coach, secured a $15 million gift (one of the largest in school history) to build a new basketball practice facility and signed a long-term apparel contract with Adidas and New Balance.
Kraft has been recognized by Sports Business Journal as “one of the top 40 sports executives under the age of 40” and the Philadelphia Business Journal as “one of the top Business Executives in Philadelphia under the age of 40.”
The former walk-on Big Ten football player reportedly owned strong relationships with BC football coach Jeff Hafley and former Temple coach Matt Ruhle. At just 37, Kraft helped quickly re-build Temple's program with Ruhle, the Owls earning back-to-back 10-win seasons, hosting ESPN GameDay and capturing an American Athletic Conference championship. Temple also soundly beat Penn State to open the 2015 season, marking the school's first win over the Nittany Lions in 74 years.
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Coincidentally, Kraft joins Penn State and new defensive coordinator hire Manny Diaz. While at Temple, Kraft hired him to be his new head coach before Diaz abruptly left to lead the Miami Hurricanes.
Kraft's incoming job duties and expectations at Penn State are daunting. He must guide a vast university building and renovation plan, which includes the unsettled future of Beaver Stadium. He must lead the university to building a more competitive NIL structure for athletes. And he must help Franklin find a way to lead Penn State out of the constant shadow of Ohio State and the cutthroat Big Ten East to reach its first playoff.
Kraft's base salary will be $750,000 annually. He will receive additional compensation through his five-year contract, ranging from $500,000 to $660,000 per year. He also will be eligible for up to $250,000 per year in incentives, such as if the football team earns a New Year's Six Bowl bid or College Football Playoff appearance. His full contract details are here.
Kraft will work under new Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi, who takes office on May 10.
This all comes after Franklin agreed to a 10-year deal last November after back-to-back disappointing seasons. He spent nearly all of his Penn State tenure under Barbour, who was hired just before his first Nittany Lion season in 2014.
Frank Bodani covers Penn State football for the York Daily Record and USA Today Network. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @YDRPennState.