James Franklin’s contract is tied to $31 million Vanderbilt facility upgrades


There is a strong belief that Vanderbilt Commodores head coach James Franklin will be leaving the SEC to take over as the leading man of the Penn State Nittany Lions, but there is an interesting clause in his contract that could make it difficult to lure Franklin away from Vanderbilt.

Apparently, the buyout that would be required to get Franklin out of his contract with Vanderbilt is tied to a $31 million indoor practice facility.

If Franklin was to leave Vanderbilt, the team that brings him on board would be forced to pay off the remainder of the project.

From VandyPride.com:

Coach Franklin’s contract is for approximately 3.5 million a year which makes him the fifth highest paid coach in the SEC just behind Nick Saban, Kevin Sumlin, Les Miles, and Steve Spurrier. According to a source in the athletic department there is no buy out clause. But the way the contract is written the turf on the football field that was put down two years ago and the new 31 million dollar indoor practice facility is tied to Coach Franklin and his contract. And if he leaves whichever school wants our coach has to pay off the upgrades that Franklin asked for and received.

That certainly makes things more interesting with the Franklin to Penn State reports, so we will have to see if anything comes to fruition with the Nittany Lions.

If it does, the players at Vanderbilt will be enjoying a brand new facility on Penn State’s dime.

Tags: Football James Franklin Vanderbilt Commodores

  • James Heffernan

    A huge point that I haven’t seen clarified on this: is this supposed to mean the balance or the lump sum? Presumably vanderbilt is paying off this facility over time, since that’s how capital investments tend to work, so it would make much more sense that the buyout isn’t 31+ million but is the remainder of what Vanderbilt owes. That would also make it decrease over time, which seems like a reasonable incentive. But a 31+ million dollar buyout is a nonstarter for every university, and even for NFL teams, I would think.

  • roaminglion

    LOL – I seriously doubt anyone would have to pay for that.

    • RickWash

      Why would you doubt it? If it’s in his contract, Penn State is paying something to get Franklin. Look at Michigan with Rich Rod leaving West Virginia.

      • roaminglion

        Because it’s not a buyout clause, it’s a building on campus. Sticking this in contract doesn’t necessarily mean they are enforceable. People don’t understand that point, many things that are in contracts are often challenged and discarded after the fact. My assumption is this is one of those times. Tying capital improvements to a coach? I seriously doubt Franklin agreed to a clause which said if he left, he had to pay for buildings at Vanderbilt.

        I’m pretty sure they were assurances on Vandy’s part that if he stayed, they would build them. Not that he had to pay for them.

  • des111168

    A contract is a contract.

  • gurulikedrucker

    David Williams and Zeppos are both attorneys. I suspect that any exit provisions in that employment agreement are legally sound and almost impossible to escape. This is probably why Williams has been so confident that Franklin would be returning. Makes me wonder if Penn State is fully aware of the financial commitments that are tied to his exit.

  • smokeybandit

    If PSU pays that money, would they then own the facility? And could they then rent it back to Vandy at twice the cost? Seems a wise investment to me.