Northwestern announced Tuesday morning that Pat Fitzgerald has signed a 10-year contract to remain the school’s coach through the 2020 season.
Considering Fitzgerald already had a deal through 2015, this must means that they scrapped the old contract in favor of this one. That means Fitzgerald’s generous raise (which NU can keep private) kicks in immediately. And, presumably, the raises for his assistants kick in now, too.
It’s probably fair to guessestimate that Fitzgerald jumped into the middle of the Big Ten pack when it comes to salary, which certainly hasn’t been the case for a Northwestern head coach for a long, long time --- if ever.
While we can’t compare dollar figures, we can compare contract lengths. To the best of my knowledge, here’s how long each Big Ten coach is locked up:
Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz
Indiana’s Kevin Wilson
Michigan’s Brady Hoke
Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio
Minnesota’s Jerry Kill
Nebraska's Bo Pelini
Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema
Ohio State’s Jim Tressel
Purdue’s Danny Hope
Illinois’ Ron Zook
Penn State’s Joe Paterno
While most guys’ contracts are extended long enough that current recruits won’t need to worry, Fitzgerald’s new deal is certainly a beacon to any prospects that wondered whether he might flee to Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State or any other brand-name school.
In addition, Fitz’s deal sends a powerful message to prospective donors as Northwestern attempts to raise a ton of money for its Master Facility Plan. If you’re going to cough up a huge hunk of cash for a new football building or for major Ryan Field renovations, aren’t you more inclined to do it for a guy that you know will be around for many years to come?
Here are the official quotes attached to Northwestern’s release:
First, athletic director Jim Phillips:
“It is paramount for Northwestern football to have great leadership. There is no better individual to lead Chicago’s Big Ten Team than Pat. He is a tremendous teacher, and truly values developing young men athletically, academically and socially. Our football program is having unprecedented success --- on the football field, in the classroom and in the community --- and that is due to Pat’s outstanding leadership.
“Northwestern is committed to giving our football program all the necessary resources to do tremendous things on and off the field. We certainly are excited to receive the results from our Master Facility Plan that will help direct the next steps regarding our athletic facilities.
“Throughout this entire process, we continue to be grateful for the terrific leadership and support of President Schapiro, Bill Osborn, the Chair of our Board of Trustees and Pat Ryan, the former Chair.”
Now, here’s Fitzgerald:
“I’m humbled and appreciative of the commitment shown by Northwestern. With this support from our administration, our coaches and players expect to compete for championships.”