Face of the Penn State Community

James Franklin leads Penn State onto the field for the 2019 Citrus Bowl. Franklin has guided the Nittany Lions to a winning record and a bowl appearance in each of his first six seasons, in addition to being a visible figure in the community. Photo by Steve Manuel.

You wouldn’t think that a nearly half-a-million dollar gift would go under the radar, though in 2020, nothing should surprise us.

That’s where we are, and it feels like that’s what happened, when James Franklin announced in July that he and his wife, Fumi, raised $462,500 for The Franklin Family Educational Equity Scholarship, which the couple established in fall 2019.

This was before the 2020 season seesawed between being on and off, and back on again, and you can read Franklin’s message he posted to Twitter below.

A college football coach and his family raising such an impressive amount of money for such a worthy cause is admirable, and perhaps one reason why there wasn’t more attention paid to this is because this overwhelming generosity is who Penn Staters are and it’s what we do. In many ways, the high standard is the norm.

Still, it’s worth pointing out the message this sends: Yes, Franklin is the football coach, and at Penn State, that’s an awfully big deal, though his title doesn’t describe Franklin’s entire contributions to the University. In terms of showing that he’s committed to Penn State and the legion of alumni and fans who follow his team, this is a crystal-clear sign that Franklin is all in, and has been for some time.

Many of the football student-athletes have been showing an incredible level of maturity and leadership off the field, and it shouldn’t be surprising when you look at the model that Franklin sets. Just this week, he emphasized the importance of voting — without advocating for anyone or any particular party, just that it’s important to have your voice heard — when discussing the voting PSAs that the team has shared on social media recently.

With Franklin, you get it all. It’s a lot to ask for in a coach, though when you get it, the result is a ton of on-field success, impact off the field, and an ongoing legacy that hits home with players and recruits.

“Coach Franklin does a great job in this program of being a leader,” standout tight end Pat Freiermuth said Friday during the team’s virtual media days. “I think that he gives everyone answers that sometimes you don’t really like to hear, but I think that he does a great job of demanding excellence and demanding perfection. At the end of the day, he’s always going to love you.”

“I think that’s what you want as a head coach — and a guy who is at such a prominent university and who loves their football — to lead the whole community really. He’s the face of the whole Penn State community, and I think that he does it in a really great way. If you’re a recruit, I just don’t get why you wouldn’t come to Penn State, especially if you’re from around this area, because it has everything a recruit wants or a college student needs or wants.”

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One thought on “Face of the Penn State Community

  1. Further proof that the phrase “We Are….” says more than two words have ever said before!

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