Northwestern signs coach Fitzgerald through 2030
A few weeks ago, reports surfaced Pat Fitzgerald was on the radar of several NFL teams that needed a head coach. And the reports indicated the head coach at Northwestern was open to listening to offers.
Fitzgerald is now off the NFL radar, having inked a new contract with Northwestern that will keep him in Evanston through 2030, the university announced Wednesday.
"From the moment I stepped on campus as an undergraduate, I have believed (Northwestern) is the finest university in the country, with the potential to offer an unmatched student-athlete experience," said Fitzgerald, a star linebacker for the Wildcats in the mid-1990s. "(Wife) Stacy, (sons) Jack, Ryan, Brendan and I have always been grateful to call Northwestern our home and be part of the Wildcat family.
"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."
Northwestern is coming off one of its best seasons.
The Wildcats played in the 2020 Big Ten football championship and won the 2021 Citrus Bowl. Fitzgerald was named the 2020 Bobby Dodd National coach of the year.
Northwestern has won two Big Ten West Division titles over the last three years, and is one of only four programs in the conference to make multiple appearances in the league's title game.
The sixth-longest tenured head coach in FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) football, the 46-year-old Fitzgerald, who just completed his 16th season as head coach, is the winningest coach in Northwestern history, reaching the 100-win milestone in the 2020 season opener at Ryan Field in Evanston.
Since 2015, Fitzgerald has guided Northwestern to a .750 winning percentage or better four times in Big Ten play.
"We have one of the best coaches in college football and, more importantly, a leader uncommonly suited to this university," Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips said. "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."
Under Fitzgerald, Northwestern has established itself as one of the premier academic programs in college football.
The Wildcats earned 69 academic all-Big Ten honors last season, posted a 3.24 team grade-point average and had nine players tally a perfect 4.0 in the midst of a championship campaign.