INDIANAPOLIS, IN– Name, image and likeness have been a dominant part of college sports for the past two years, and Penn State coach James Franklin has made it well-known that he doesn’t feel the school jumped on the NIL train as fast as other places did.
“I think over the last year, we’ve made significant progress,” Franklin said after a spring practice this April. “But if you give somebody a two-year head start in a basically three-year model, it’s (the result) pretty obvious.”
“We’ve still got a ton of work to do,” Franklin said. “We started out that first couple years where we said we were going to teach student-athletes how to be entrepreneurs. That was our NIL model.”
In the past three months, Penn State’s made visible strides in NIL.
In June, Penn State’s two top NIL collectives, Success with Honor and Lions Legacy Club, merged to form Happy Valley United.
More than a month and a half after that, Franklin addressed reporters on Day 1 of this year’s Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis.
The first question, asked by Seth Engle of the Daily Collegian, was about where Penn State’s NIL endeavor is.
Franklin feels that things are trending upward with the help of AD Pat Kraft.
“I think through Pat’s leadership, I think we’re continuing to close that gap and make really good progress,” Franklin said. “I do think, to your point, some of those decisions that have been made, I think, have been helpful. So I’m encouraged by the direction that we’re going, but there’s still work that needs to be done.”
The night before Franklin’s press conference, Kraft spoke with Penn State beat reporters at the Courtyard Marriot near Lucas Oil Stadium.
He made similar comments to Franklin, saying that Penn State’s “making up ground fast, and at a pretty” in NIL.
“You’re trying to educate a fan base, and the whole thing is just different to all of us,” Kraft said. “You’re like, wait, you have a $100,000 BMW? That was like, no, stay away from it. The reality of changing the whole tone and tenor toward athletes making money, which we all believe is the right thing to do. It’s just taken us time to move this battleship to say this is OK.
Kraft officially took over as AD last July and said he entered a bare NIL cupboard.
“When I came in, there was nothing,” he said. “Like, nothing. “We really struggled.
Overall, Penn State still feels it has work to do, but the football coach and AD are encouraged by where things are going.
“James is passionate because I think as we look at where we are, we’ve got to continue to get better at it,” Kraft said. “But I will say this; I think we’re in a much better spot.”