Jim Phillips sat down with Fitzgerald and discussed the future of the program in October, and again in January, with the goal of working toward a restructured contract for Fitzgerald. All along, it was obvious that locking up the head coach for a long-term deal was a must.
During his five years as Northwestern's head coach, Pat Fitzgerald has helped bring the program to a new level of consistent success, and the future is undoubtedly bright. But in that role, he also serves as the ultimate promoter for of Northwestern.
A former player, alum, and Chicago native, Fitzgerald wanted to be a Wildcat for a long time. Now, that is secured for the next 10 years.
"It's a no-brainer, this is home, I'm a Wildcat," Fitzgerald said.
The extension is more than job security for Pat Fitzgerald, who the Chicago Tribune reports is expected to make in the range of $1.8 million through 2020. It's a commitment that Northwestern is fully invested in a very bright future for their football program.
The deal includes assurances that Northwestern will improve their football facilities—a possible facelift for Ryan Field or a new stadium could be constructed.
The Chicago Tribune also reports that facilities would be ideally relocated to the lakefront on Northwestern's campus. This would save NU student-athletes making the mile trip from campus to the athletic facilities.
The plans are still at the beginning stages, but this is a major step in improving the future of Northwestern athletics.
"We're coming to the end of that first phase," Fitzgerald said of the facilities upgrades. "We're moving into the next phase. We're going down the road that is very exciting."
This is a part of Northwestern's "master plan" for renovations, but in a way, it's a master plan for Northwestern's future. It's a step to becoming an elite program in college football.
"It's a commitment to us being a championship program," said Fitzgerald. "It supports our players, coaches, and our fans. Where we're going and what's going to happen, I have no idea. We have a huge commitment from the university and I'm very appreciative."
The new deal also includes restructured salaries for Northwestern's assistant coaches—satisfying the rest of the coaching staff.
When Pat Fitzgerald and his coaching staff speak with a recruit, they have a few extra selling points. Northwestern has a head coach secured for 10 more seasons. In addition, they can offer new facilities (both stadium and facilities renovations).
Northwestern has made a major commitment with this new deal. On paper, NU secured their head coach for 10 years. In reality, they've invested in their future—a future that is very bright.
"I'm honored, it's a privilege to be the head coach at Northwestern," said Fitzgerald. "I'm appreciative to President Schapiro, Bill Osborn, our current chairman, and Mr. Pat Ryan, our former chairman and our staff and players. I'm excited for the future."