YORK, Pa. — Penn State has a plan to upgrade its athletics facilities. But don’t expect any additions to make any of them like a theme park.
One of the biggest developments in college athletics — and particularly football — is the trend toward crazy amenities programs are adding to their facilities. Clemson’s new football facilities will have a barber shop and a nine-hole miniature golf course. Central Florida is going to add a lazy river.
Texas unveiled new lockers that will have 43-inch televisions in place of name plates. No schools have announced plans for roller coasters. Yet.
Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour recently announced a “facilities master plan” — a wide-ranging wish list of upgrades and new buildings. There weren’t any carnival rides or beach town activities included.
“I don’t think that’s Penn State,” Barbour said Monday at Penn State’s York campus, the first stop on a seven-city, four-day Coaches’ Caravan trip. “I don’t think that is necessary from a standpoint of, ‘Do they address the teaching, learning, training needs of our students?’ That would be the question I would ask about any aspect of a facilities project.”
The master plan, which is spread over 20 years and will undoubtedly include alterations, includes renovations for Beaver Stadium, Bryce Jordan Center and Jeffrey Field. The plan calls for a new lacrosse stadium, a new natatorium and a new basketball practice facility.
There will be a new indoor practice facility for baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf, lacrosse and soccer. It’s all part of keeping Penn State competitive.
“The arms race is a reality in what we do,” Barbour said. “We don’t have to win it. We don’t have to lead it. We have to run the race. We have to be in it. We’ve got to be providing facilities that meet the training, learning and teaching needs of our students. Does it need to be more than that? No. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we do things.
“We’re going to build facilities that help our students every day and that tell our story. I think doing our facilities in a way that take advantage of our history and tradition. I think we’ve done that with two projects you’ve already seen with Lasch [Football Building] and the Morgan Academic Center. They do a great job within the physical environment of the facility of telling our story.”
‘Stay tuned’ on James Franklin’s contract
Barbour gave an update on James Franklin’s contract status, and a potential extension. Well, sort of.
“Stay tuned,” she said. “Stay tuned. It’s moving along.”
There were reports of a potential contract extension after Penn State beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Barbour said before the Rose Bowl that discussions were “moving along.”
Franklin signed a 6-year contract when he came to Penn State from Vanderbilt in 2014. He made $4.2 million in 2016 and is slated to make $4.3 million in 2017. The Nittany Lions are 25-15 in his three seasons, and will begin next season as a top contender for another Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff berth.
“There’s no pressure or hurry from either Penn State or from Coach Franklin,” Barbour said. “I think it’s happening as it is happening.”