Northwestern, Fitzgerald agree to epic contract extension originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
After reports that Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald was open to interviewing for NFL jobs, it looks like he’ll be staying in Evanston for a long time. The university announced on Wednesday that they’ve inked Fitzgerald to a new contract that ties him to the Wildcats through 2030.
"From the moment I stepped on campus as an undergraduate, I have believed this is the finest University in the country, with the potential to offer an unmatched student-athlete experience," said Fitzgerald in a statement. "Stacy, Jack, Ryan, Brendan and I have always been grateful to call Northwestern our home, and be part of the Wildcats family. With the unparalleled leadership of President Morty Schapiro, athletic director Jim Phillips, senior vice president for business and finance Craig Johnson, vice president and general counsel Stephanie Graham, athletic department chief financial officer Kevin White, and Chairmen Lanny Martin, Bill Osborn and Pat Ryan, alongside so many others, we have built the foundation to compete for championships in tandem with the best academic and personal development opportunity anywhere in college football. We all have a lot to be proud of, but our best is yet to come."
"We have one of the best coaches in college football and, more importantly, a leader uncommonly suited to this University," said Northwestern Vice President for Athletics & Recreation Jim Phillips in a statement. "Over the course of his tenure, Coach Fitzgerald has built a culture of unwavering belief in excellence both on and off the field, and led our Wildcats to unprecedented sustained success. They boast incredible achievement in the classroom, in the community and in competition, and will for years to come."
Pete Thamel reports that many NFL teams did reach out to Fitzgerald this offseason, with two teams in particular making a strong push. There were head coach openings for the Lions, Texans, Falcons, Jets, Jaguars, Eagles, Chargers following the 2020 season. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Texans job was the only one still vacant.
Fitzgerald became the Wildcats’ head coach in 2006 and has led Northwestern to a 106-81 record over his 15 seasons with the team. He lost his first four bowl games as a head coach, but since then he has gone 5-1 in bowl games. Fitzgerald won the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award in 2018, and the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award in 2020. He is also the winningest coach in Northwestern history.
His head coaching stock rose after Northwestern blew out Auburn in the 2021 Citrus Bowl 35-19.