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Penn State Hires Boston College’s Patrick Kraft As Next Athletic Director

It’s official. Boston College’s Patrick Kraft will serve as Penn State’s next athletic director, the university announced Friday morning. After reportedly finalizing the deal on Thursday, a Board of Trustees committee met virtually to tie things up.

Kraft, 44, has served as Boston College’s athletic director since 2020. Now, he’ll come to Penn State and succeed Sandy Barbour, who’s poised to retire this summer after leading the Nittany Lions’ department for about eight years. He’ll take over on July 1.

“In the coming months, I am so excited to meet the community and to begin to work alongside Penn State’s talented student-athletes and dedicated coaches and staff to uphold and advance excellence for Penn State,” Kraft said in a statement. “The University is world-class, rich with tradition, and has passionate fan support, and we will never stray from what has made the program great. My focus will be to provide the best experience for our student-athletes and staff, continue to grow our sports programs, and enhance the best atmosphere in the Big Ten for our community and fans.” 

Kraft is now under contract at Penn State through June 30, 2027. He’ll annually pull in $750,000 and earn a $500,000 bonus for his first year. Beyond that, he’s able to cash in on a handful of incentives for the Nittany Lions’ overall performance, including bonuses for postseason success, student-athletes’ academic performance, and conference championships.

Throughout his brief time at Boston College, Kraft made his mark by hiring men’s basketball coach Earl Grant and supervising the women’s lacrosse team’s national title run — the Eagles’ first national championship by a women’s team. He also secured a $15 million gift from donors that will construct a new men’s and women’s basketball facility and helped broker apparel deals with Nike and New balance for his current and former programs.

Overall, Kraft helped Boston College raise more than $80 million and complete nearly a dozen capital projects. Nearly 70% of Boston College’s student-athletes earned a 3.00 GPA or better in 2021. The school ranked among the nation’s top 10 in overall graduation rate in all sports.

Thanks to a five-year stint as Temple’s athletic director, Kraft already has plenty of experience working in Pennsylvania athletics. Before receiving that promotion at just 37 years old, he served as Temple’s deputy athletics director and helped oversee the Owls’ football program under former coach Matt Rhule, a former Penn State linebacker.

Kraft isn’t a stranger to the Big Ten, either. He earned three degrees at Indiana and walked on to the Hoosiers’ football team as a linebacker. Kraft later worked at Indiana, as well as Loyola-Chicago and the Arena Football League’s Chicago Rush.

“In the ever-changing landscape of college athletics, Pat has proven to be a bold leader, whose mindset and ability to adapt is as important as ever,” said head football coach James Franklin. “It is clear to me that Pat embraces the proud tradition of Penn State and our 31 athletic programs. Pat’s background as a Big Ten college football player has helped mold his understanding of how impactful a successful football program can be for the entire University and community.”

On paper, Kraft’s hiring is perhaps the first major win for President-elect Neeli Bendapudi, who formed a task force to find Penn State’s next athletic director just weeks ago. She’s set to take office in early May.

“I am thrilled to welcome Pat Kraft and his family — Betsy, Annabelle and Joseph — to the Penn State family,” Bendapudi wrote in a statement. “He is an exceptional and inspiring leader with the vision, experience and drive to excel in this role and to build upon our tradition of intercollegiate athletic success…With Pat at the helm of our athletics department, the possibilities of what we can accomplish ahead are unlimited.” 

A move to Penn State could be a large undertaking for Kraft, who’d inherit an athletics department that oversees 31 varsity teams — two more than Boston College and 12 more than Temple. He’d also need to figure out how to move forward with plans to renovate the Nittany Lions’ facilities, especially since most projects have largely stalled since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check out our preview to learn more about what Kraft could bring to Happy Valley starting this summer.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]gmail.com) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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