News & Notes From Patrick Kraft’s Penn State Football Rose Bowl Media Day Press Conference
Penn State Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Pat Kraft took the podium to kick off football’s Rose Bowl media day Friday morning.
It was the first time Kraft had spoken to the media since Big Ten media day back in July, and he addressed quite a range of topics. He fielded questions on Penn State Athletics facility upgrades, the still-new NIL landscape in college athletics, James Franklin, and Micah Shrewsberry.
As there was a lot going on during Kraft’s press conference, here’s a recap of what was discussed.
Beaver Stadium Renovations
One of the more notable things Kraft touched on was the status of potential renovations to Beaver Stadium, which hasn’t been in the news lately. Since former Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour announced Penn State’s Facilities Master Plan, which included extensive renovations to Beaver Stadium, there hasn’t been much progress. Kraft provided an update at his press conference, saying the department is “close” to making a final decision.
According to Kraft, there have been 19 studies done about renovating the stadium over the past 10 years. With that information, he said that he is comfortable that he will have a recommendation to the Board of Trustees and President Neeli Bendapudi soon.
“I want to make this building better, and we have to do that,” Kraft said. “We’re very close. All the data is there now.”
He continued by stating that the department still has to figure out the financial models and other things of that nature before it gives the board a recommendation. Kraft also added that building a completely new stadium couldn’t be feasible financially and that a part of Penn State’s identity is having a stadium with over 100,000 fans.
“No one is building a 100,000-seat stadium,” he said. “That’s important to us, and that’s an important piece to who we are.’
Name, Image, And Likeness
Kraft went into heavy detail on NIL collectives and how the new initiative impacts Penn State Athletics and just college sports in general.
Stating that there’s still more he has to learn, he still thinks that the department is in a very good spot in that respect. He mentioned that the department is selling athletes’ jerseys on Fanatics and that the company picked up seven of the sports on campus, so fans will be able to buy uniforms for more sports than just football.
He went on to emphasize that Penn State has to put all the information together so that it’s easier for fans, student-athletes, recruits, coaches, and all related parties to comprehend. It’s still a changing landscape, and Kraft said that he wants to be on top of it at every turn.
Retaining Football Assistant Coaches
Kraft said he is “committed” to keeping the football staff together if that’s on board with James Franklin. He asked Franklin, “What do we need to be successful? What do we have to do to win a national championship?”
He stated that keeping the staff together was a critical component of that. He’s not wrong. Penn State’s offense hasn’t had the benefit of continuity in a very long time. Sean Clifford played for three different offensive coordinators in his first three years as Penn State’s starting quarterback.
“I will always be committed to keeping our staff together, no matter what,” Kraft said.
Kraft went further and said that it’s not only for football but all of Penn State’s varsity teams.
“If you have a great staff and you’ve got great people, you want to keep them as long as you can,” he said. “Because every time you turn that over, especially in the coaching ranks, it’s just different philosophies… It takes longer to get the process going.”
Later on in the press conference, he also confirmed that Penn State’s assistant coach salary pool is still top three in the Big Ten.
Micah Shrewsberry & Penn State Hoops
Kraft was asked if Penn State Athletics is in a position to extend men’s basketball head coach Micah Shrewsberry long term if a bigger school comes with an offer.
“Yes,” Kraft responded with confidence, followed by a long pause.
Continuing his previous point, he stated that keeping Shrewsberry isn’t just about paying him. It’s also about keeping the staff around him and giving the team the resources to be successful.
“That infrastructure, which I think has lacked for a lot of our sports, is where I think we have to invest in now… Paying the coaches is great,” he said. “But the great coaches understand that it’s all the other stuff that helps you eventually win a national championship.”
More Facilities Upgrades
Facilities have become a big deal in recruiting for any college sport in recent years, and Kraft didn’t mince words when discussing the state of the department’s current facilities.
“The training room [in Rec Hall’s wrestling facility] is absolutely inadequate,” he said.
He told the media there are studies being conducted to revamp Penn State wrestling’s facilities inside Rec Hall, along with upgrading men’s & women’s volleyball facilities, too. In addition, Kraft also confirmed that Penn State is halfway to its fundraising goal of renovating Jeffrey Field for men’s & women’s soccer.
Originally asked about potential uses for Rec Hall and the Bryce Jordan Center, Kraft stated that those decisions are as much about the student-athlete’s experience as it is the fan’s experience.
“Right now, I got to focus on the student-athlete, and that piece of it is really more important.”
Transparency From The Athletic Department
At the beginning of the season, Kraft announced that Penn State football had 91,754 season ticket holders on the Penn State Coaches Show. That number had never been disclosed in the past.
He spoke more about transparency within Penn State’s athletic department at his press conference, which is something that fans have been unhappy with in the past.
“It’s who I am. I’m going to be honest with you,” he said. “I don’t see it any other way. I can’t speak to what happened in the past, but 92,000 season ticket holders is pretty darn impressive if you ask me. I think it shows how passionate this base is about Penn State football…It’s just fact.”
He still clarified that there are things that he will not discuss publicly, as there are in any organization, but he reaffirmed that he wants to run the show with transparency for Penn State fans.
Kraft also mentioned that Penn State sold out its Rose Bowl ticket allotment in just three minutes.
Impression Of James Franklin
When asked about his impression of James Franklin after his first season as Penn State’s athletic director, Kraft had nothing but nice things to say about HC1.
“My first takeaway is — man, he loves his players, and there is a great love between both of them. To me, that’s really cool,” Kraft said.
He called Franklin an “elite recruiter” and that he cultivated a “special” locker room for Penn State football. Kraft then told a story of Franklin suddenly leaving a meeting to take care of something for his daughter, which impressed him.
“That’s James Franklin. That’s what I love about the guy,” he said. “I want to make sure that he has every resource available to go win a national championship…He recruits great kids. He’s a great person. His family is great… That’s the stuff that really matters.”
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