Friday afternoon, Penn State introduced its next athletic director at a late-morning press conference in the Beaver Stadium media room.
Word broke Tuesday morning that Boston College athletic director Patrick Kraft had become Penn State’s primary target to replace the retiring Sandy Barbour, and three days later, Penn State officially named Kraft as Barbour’s successor. He’ll take over July 1.
Here are some talking points from Kraft’s first press conference at Penn State.
PENN STATE = FOOTBALL
Kraft mentioned and praised multiple Penn State athletic programs and coaches throughout the press conference, including Cael Sanderson’s wrestling program, Micah Shrewsberry’s basketball program and Guy Gadowsky’s hockey program.
Kraft also emphasized that Penn State athletics is “31 strong and committed to winning national championships and conference championships in 31 sports.”
Although Kraft made clear his plan to help all 31 programs succeed, he also knows that, in Happy Valley, football is king.
And he should know, having played in Beaver Stadium with Indiana in the late 1990s.
He also feels that the football program and its success will only help the other 30 programs.
“We have the opportunity to have more than 107,000 people on your campus and engage and create memories,” Kraft said. “So it is a driver. Nationally, it helps the brands. It helps recruiting for all the other sports, and I think (that’s where) it starts, and then everything else kind of falls in there. Cael (Sanderson) has shown that it leads to success elsewhere. Penn State is Penn State football. It’s a big part of it.”
BRINING ‘HOCKEY VALLEY’ A CHAMPIONSHIP
Kraft was only at Boston College for two years, but in that time, he got to be around one of America’s best and most well-known hockey programs. The Golden Eagles have won 13 national championships and made it to the regional semifinals in 2020-21.
In Kraft’s time in Boston, he got to work with the Mike Kyrzewski of college hockey, Jerry York, who retired earlier this month after winning the most games of any coach in NCAA history.
Under Guy Gadowsky, Penn State hockey has had a meteoric rise since becoming a Division I program in 2012, making it to consecutive NCAA tournaments in 2017 and 18.
Penn State has yet to get to a Frozen Four, and Kraft hopes to help Gadowski make it there.
“College hockey is an amazing sport,” he said. “I love it. I love it. I told you, we’re going to get to the Frozen Four. This is a strong area for hockey, and I have to help (Gadowski) get there.”
“(Hockey is) like wrestling. Very loyal fan base, and when you do it, you can do it really well.”
Although there’s been a lot of talk about the impact Kraft’s hire will have on the football program, he’s also built up a basketball resume.
When Kraft was at Temple, the Owls men’s basketball team won the American Athletic Conference Championship in 2015-16. The women’s team broke a six-year NCAA tournament drought during his tenure.
At Boston College, Kraft hired Earl Grant as the school’s basketball coach, secured $15 million to go toward building a basketball facility and signed long-term apparel deals with Adidas and New Balance.
Now, Kraft will oversee a men’s program on the rise, led by fan-favorite head coach Micah Shrewsberry.
Like most Penn State fans, Kraft is excited about where Shrewsberry— who wrapped up his first season in March— has the program going. Even with the progress under Shrewsberry, Penn State basketball is regarded by many as a laughing stock, and Kraft hopes to help change the perception.
“Sandy hit a home run,” Kraft said. “(Shrewsberry is) the real deal, and he is special. What we have to do is change what people think about Penn State basketball. This is a place to come, and you can be successful. That’s the first thing, and Micah has to have— and this goes for all of our coaches—the resources and the ability to go and change that perception. He’s the real deal, and I got lucky with that one. Sandy did that one wonderfully.”
‘HERE TO WIN’
Kraft made his main objective at Penn State clear.
“I’m here to win,” he said. “I’m here to win, and we are going to win.