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PSU Athletic Department committed to spending

By CORY GIGER

For The Express

DALLAS — Major renovations to Beaver Stadium are still “years away,” Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour said Friday, but the athletic department is committed to keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to spending on sports programs.

Barbour addressed numerous topics during her annual bowl game press conference Friday. A breakdown:

n Fundraising continues for PSU’s facilities master plan, but Barbour had this to say about any major overhaul to Beaver Stadium: “Let’s make this really, really clear: That is years away. That’s such a massive project that it will take that long.” The school is still spending money to upgrade football facilities, with Barbour reminding that the Board of Trustees had approved an architect to design $70 million in renovations to the Lasch Building. “We’re about halfway through that,” she said.

– Penn State’s goal is to be in the top three in the Big Ten and top 10 nationally in spending in all sports programs. The school does have challenges, Barbour acknowledged, because it has to pay for 31 varsity sports as well as facilities upgrades, while also continuing to pay coaches the going rate. Having 31 sports teams is “who we are,” she said, and the community embraces such a large athletic program. But by comparison, she noted some SEC schools have only 17 or 18 sports programs to pay for.

– James Franklin received a new contract through 2024 a few weeks ago. Barbour said terms of that deal will be released in early January. He has been making $5.8 million annually, so that number should be going up.

– When it comes to paying assistant coaches more and more money, which is the national trend, Barbour said, “We made a commitment several years ago to upgrading our assistant coaches’ pool, and for the last three years, James and I have and others have sat down, determined a number. He’s asked for a number, and that’s what he’s been given, and this year is no different.”

– Franklin’s name comes up every year for other potential jobs around the country. Barbour had an interesting answer when asked if that’s bothersome. “First of all, I think it’s awesome,” she said. “You always want someone that other people want, because if they don’t, you got a different kind of problem. Right? So I think it’s fantastic. I love the fact that Penn State has a head coach that a lot of other people want. … I want us to continue to have the kind of success that’s going to draw other other people to James, but he’s a Penn Stater, he’s our coach, and he’s going to remain that way.”

n Penn State and Pitt completed a four-year series this year, and there are no future games scheduled at this point. “I would certainly not say it’s dead,” Barbour said of the series. “I would say it’s not something we’re talking about right now.” The main sticking point, she noted, is that Penn State plays a nine-game conference schedule, while Pitt plays eight. “That makes it a different proposition for them than it is for us,” Barbour said.

n Barbour has fielded a lot of questions over the years about Patrick Chambers and struggles by the PSU men’s basketball team. But this season the hoops team is ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 1996, so Barbour has seen the patience finally get rewarded. “I feel great for Pat,” she said. “I’ve been a huge supporter of Pat Chambers and felt that the signs were there. Now look, we got a long way to go in 2020. But I feel really good about the squad and the confidence that they have. I love this for Pat, but I love it even more for our kids in our community to be able to add men’s basketball to that list of Penn State programs that are getting it done on the national scene.”

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