football Edit

Four issues Pat Kraft must address as Penn State's Athletic Director

On Friday, Dr. Pat Kraft officially took over as Penn State's newest athletic director, following the retirement of Sandy Barbour on Thursday. Now officially, the head of Penn State's athletic department, Kraft will have plenty of issues to focus on from Name, Image, and Likeness to the future of Beaver Stadium and more.

Below, we take a look at just a handful of the key issues that Kraft will need to address as he begins his tenure in Happy Valley.

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Penn State's NIL issues:

It's no secret that Penn State has various issues when it comes to Name, Image, and Likeness. While there have been improvements in the NIL realm for the university over the last few months, plenty of work still must be done in order to keep up with the joneses of college athletics. Penn State is drastically behind key players in NIL and while the university will likely never be at the level of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas A&M, etc, improving the state of NIL around the university is still a must and desperately needed.

With the additions on Thursday of UCLA and USC to the Big Ten, the urgency to fix these issues increased even moreso. While Penn State may only have a true recruiting battle with USC every few cycles, the addition of the Trojans certainly will make it tougher for Penn State football to remain at the top of the picture in the Big Ten, and that's without NIL as a looming issue in recruiting and roster management. The addition of UCLA will of course also make it harder in football but potentially moreso in other sports including men's basketball.

Penn State's issues in NIL have been a key concern for head football coach James Franklin who has made numerous statements over the past year regarding the issue. This past month when asked about Ohio State head Ryan Day saying the Buckeyes needed approximately $13 million to keep their roster intact, Franklin responded "If School X has a number, and we're supposed to be competing with School X, why would our number be different?". He would also say in that same press conference, "There is no long haul. It needs to be now, it needs to be yesterday,"

There's no doubt about it, NIL is and should be Pat Kraft's top issue as he begins his tenure as Penn State's athletic director. Without drastic changes in NIL, Penn State's future success on the gridiron, hardwood, and any other field of play could be in doubt.

The future of Beaver Stadium..

It's been an ongoing saga for a while now regarding the future of Beaver Stadium. How far will Penn State go in renovations? Is building a whole new stadium a possibility? While Sandy Barbour had a huge part in those conversations over the last few years and has begun some of those renovations, it will continue as one of the major talking points of Pat Kraft's tenure.

Kraft along with key members of the Penn State community will need to make decisions about the future of the stadium. There are surely renovations that are desperately needed. The bathrooms and the pressbox are two that stand out but are not limited to.

In 2017, Penn State released its Athletics Facilities Master Plan that included renovations to Beaver Stadium that would take place approximately over a 20-year period. Among the renovations discussed for the stadium included, fan amenities, seating changes, as well as updates to the exterior and interior aesthetics of the stadium among other renovations.

Additionally earlier this year, Penn State announced a Beaver Stadium survey that would be sent to select constituent groups. In their statement released for the survey, Penn State said "all options are being considered to provide Penn State and Nittany Nation with a world-class, long-term stadium solution." That of course means an entirely brand new stadium would be considered as well.

The future of Beaver Stadium at this juncture is unknown. While it's of course way too early to discuss one's potential legacy as an athletic director, seemingly less than just one day into the job, Kraft's ultimate legacy at Penn State could end up being defined quite a bit by the future changes Penn State sees in regards to Beaver Stadium.

The ultimate question in regard to future Beaver Stadium renovations is "How much is too much?" and "Could some of the money going into Beaver Stadium renovations be used in a better way for the football program such as the program's facilities, recruiting staff, support staff, and more." Also worth noting is that the Lasch Football Complex is currently undergoing $48 million in renovations but in today's world of college football, the facilities' arms race will be forever ongoing.


Fundraising and revenue streams..

Penn State has always been an institution that relied heavily on fundraising when it comes to athletics and Pat Kraft's fundraising abilities and history are a big reason he was selected as Penn State's newest athletic director. Under Kraft, Penn State's athletic department will need to continue its fundraising efforts and in improve those efforts.

During his brief time at Boston College, Kraft oversaw $80 million in fundraising while completing 11 capital projects per Penn State's press release regarding his hiring in April. At Penn State, Kraft's fundraising abilities will be all the more important especially as the university continues its Athletics Facilities Master Plan and looks to make other upgrades and renovations along the way.

Additionally, when it comes to fundraising, it will also be key for Kraft to establish and build relationships with potential mega-boosters in Terry Pegula and former Nike CEO Mark Packer among others.

On top of fundraising, Kraft will also need to find additional revenue streams that Penn State could potentially tap into that could help generate more money for the athletic department and its' programs. Everything should be on the table in these discussions, including potential alcohol sales at Beaver Stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center as well as naming rights for the universities' various stadiums and facilities whether it's a corporation or individual donors.

Penn State football's scheduling issues

Finally, It's fair to say Penn State football's conference scheduling by the Big Ten has not been kind. Between 2010 and 2025, Penn State football would have started their Big Ten schedules off at home, just twice, in 2015 and 2025. Both those matchups will have taken place against Rutgers. While it certainly isn't the biggest issue in the world for Kraft, it is an issue that should be addressed.

As one of the Big Ten's premier teams, Penn State starting the season on the road 14 out of 16 seasons is baffling. For comparison, Ohio State will have started on the road in nine of 15 seasons and Michigan will started on the road just eight times. While it doesn't have to be necessarily a 50/50 split, it surely shouldn't be the disparity it has been for the Nittany Lions.


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