Northwestern gives Chris Collins, Pat Fitzgerald lengthy contract extensions
Northwestern University Vice President for Athletics & Recreation Jim Phillips announced Tuesday the signing of Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald and Sullivan-Ubben Head Men’s Basketball Coach Chris Collins to multi-year contract extensions. Fitzgerald’s contract now runs through the 2026 football season while Collins’ contract has been extended through the 2024-25 campaign.
“At Northwestern we place a premium on ‘institutional fit’, and we have assuredly found leaders for our football and men’s basketball programs that fit this University and our mission to deliver a world-class experience to our student-athletes,” said Phillips. “We are distinct in having head coaches for our two anchor programs who are homegrown. Pat Fitzgerald grew up on the city’s southwest side. Chris Collins attended high school less than 10 miles from Welsh-Ryan Arena. They not only understand this area, they are intimately linked to it, now for many years to come.”
“Northwestern is committed to excellence in all that it does. I’m thankful for the support and leadership of Chairman Bill Osborn, our Board of Trustees, President Morty Schapiro and the entire President’s senior staff who guide this institution and make it possible for us to relentlessly pursue that mission.”
“This is home for me and my family, and I love this University,” said Fitzgerald. “I’m extremely privileged to coach the exceptional young men we invite here to earn the best education in college football and compete at the highest level in the Big Ten Conference. The best is yet to come, and we’re excited for the future.”
“My family and I could not be more excited to be a part of the Wildcats community for many years to come,” Collins said. “I have absolutely loved coaching here, the support that we’ve received from the University, its leadership and our fans has been exceptional. We love being a part of the Northwestern family and we can’t wait to continue building on the foundation established over the last four seasons.”
Fitzgerald, the program’s all-time winningest coach, has guided his alma mater to two 10-win campaigns and a pair of bowl victories in the last five years. A two-time national defensive player of the year as a Northwestern linebacker and 2008 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Fitzgerald has been a member of the Wildcats’ football coaching staff since 2001 and NU’s head coach since 2006. Of Northwestern’s 13 all-time bowl appearances, the Orland Park, Illinois, native has been a part of 11 as either a Wildcats student-athlete or coach.
Away from the gridiron, Fitzgerald’s players have achieved at the highest levels in the classroom with a record 39 student-athletes receiving Academic All-Big Ten honors last fall and a program-record 3.14 GPA during the 2015-16 academic year. The Wildcats have ranked first or second among all FBS programs in Graduation Success Rate in each of the last seven years.
Collins guided the Wildcats to a school-record 24 victories, a berth in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal, and the program’s first NCAA Tournament victory in 2016-17. Northwestern has increased its season win total in each of the four seasons he has been at the helm in Evanston. Collins has guided the ’Cats to two of the four 20-victory campaigns in school history and, in his short tenure, his student-athletes have earned 15 Academic All-Big Ten and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honors.
This past season Northwestern earned 10 victories in Big Ten Conference play, the school’s most since 1932-33. The former Illinois Mr. Basketball honoree was recognized for NU’s record-setting season by being named one of four finalists for the Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year.