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Pat Fitzgerald signs new contract through 2030

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A sigh of relief if there were any remaining concerns he’d leave Evanston soon.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Auburn vs Northwestern Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that’s one less thing Northwestern’s next athletic director has to worry about. Head football coach Pat Fitzgerald has agreed to a 10-year contract that goes through 2030. The news was first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel and then confirmed by a university press release.

There were concerns among Wildcat fans that he’d leave his alma mater for the NFL after multiple reports surfaced that he was more open to making the jump this year than in the past. But Fitz has long preached loyalty to Northwestern, where he won two Big Ten titles as a linebacker. Many believed the only pro job he’d truly entertain would be head coach of the Chicago Bears, so he wouldn’t have to relocate his family, with three kids in middle and high school, among other reasons.

The last time another organization made a hard run at him, Michigan in 2013, Fitz agreed to a seven-year deal and lobbied for a brand new practice facility. The state-of-the-art Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center opened in 2018 on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The former two-time All-American is the winningest coach in Northwestern history with a record of 106-81 (63-59 Big Ten), and the Wildcats have won the Big Ten West twice in the past three years. NU finished the 2020 season ranked 10th in the AP poll, its highest end-of-season ranking since 1995.

Fitzgerald has guided Northwestern to 10 bowl games and five bowl victories in 14 seasons, including the 2013 Gator Bowl win, the school’s first postseason victory since 1949. His previous contract ran through 2026.