Penn State has hired Boston College athletic director Patrick Kraft to become the school’s next athletic director, the school announced Friday.
Kraft will replace Sandy Barbour, who announced her retirement earlier this year.
“This is a special opportunity, and I am incredibly honored to join Penn State’s best-in-class athletics program. I am appreciative of President-elect [Neeli] Bendapudi for her support and invitation to come back to Pennsylvania to be part of the Penn State family,” Kraft said in a statement. “In the coming months, I am so excited to meet the community and to begin to work alongside Penn State’s talented student-athletes and dedicated coaches and staff to uphold and advance excellence for Penn State.”
Kraft is a veteran athletic director in the Northeast with strong experience in football; he has overseen the programs at Boston College and Temple and played football in the Big Ten at Indiana. After Barbour stepped down, Penn State football coach James Franklin termed the hire as “critical” for the athletic department and football program.
Kraft has spent nearly two years as the athletic director at Boston College, where his accomplishments included the hiring of basketball coach Earl Grant, securing a $15 million lead gift to help build a basketball practice facility and signing a long-term apparel contract with Adidas and New Balance.
Most importantly for Penn State, Kraft’s background is steeped in football experience. He forged a strong relationship with coach Jeff Hafley at Boston College over his first two seasons in Chestnut Hill.
As an associate athletic director for two years and the athletic director starting in May 2015, Kraft worked in lockstep with then-coach Matt Rhule to help build Temple into the American Athletic Conference champion in 2016. Rhule authored back-to-back 10-win seasons at Temple with Kraft as the athletic director, and the school hosted ESPN GameDay in 2015.
Temple also beat Penn State 27-10 to open the 2015 season, marking the school’s first win over the Nittany Lions in 74 years.
Kraft’s hires at Temple included current Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who left to become the head coach at Miami shortly after taking the Temple job. He also hired Geoff Collins after Rhule left for Baylor, and Collins had two bowl seasons before leaving for Georgia Tech. Kraft’s hire to replace Diaz in 2019, Rod Carey, sputtered out in just three seasons.
At Penn State, Kraft’s task will be to work with football coach James Franklin to help Penn State emerge in the crowded Big Ten East. Franklin’s general comments about the attributes he’d want in an athletic director after Barbour stepped down hint at Penn State needing to play catch-up in the Big Ten and beyond.
He told reporters that he wants the new athletic director to have “a really good understanding about what we’re truly competing against week in and week out” compared to other programs nationally. He also wanted someone who can be aligned with him and the president and “streamline some things” to be able to push the program forward in “a little bit less bureaucratic way.” Simply put, Franklin said he is looking for someone who can get things done to help Penn State compete nationally.
Franklin agreed to a 10-year deal in November. Kraft would be the third athletic director that Franklin has worked with since his hiring in 2014.
For Boston College, the school’s next hire will mark its fourth athletic director since 2017. It will be the third athletic director Hafley has worked with since arriving at Boston College in December 2019.