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Northwestern set to announce contract extension for Pat Fitzgerald

Updated: May 9, 2011 9:25PM

Northwestern will announce Tuesday that football coach Pat Fitzgerald has signed a contract extension that will keep him in Evanston for at least seven more years, a source said.

Fitzgerald and athletic director Jim Phillips unoffically agreed on an extension in January, but details were not finalized and the contract was not signed by all parties until over the weekend, the source said.

Details of the contract were not available, but the source said it was definitely “in excess of seven years.” Fitzgerald’s last contract extension in June 2009 was for seven years. The source also said assistant coaches’ salaries were taken into account in Fitzgerald’s contract because “it is more expensive for coaches to live in the Chicago area.”

Also in the midst of Fitzgerald’s extension is a facilities study that NU’s athletic department is conducting with a Boston-based firm. Every athletic facility at NU is being evaluated, and sometime in mid-summer the firm will present its recommendations to the university. A source said significant changes could be coming for NU’s football facilities based on the study’s findings.

Phillips has said that he does not like to discuss contract issues with a coach during their season, but he made an exception with Fitzgerald. After the Wildcats lost to Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl Jan. 1, Phillips told Fitzgerald in a very brief conversation that he wanted to keep the 36-year old coach at NU for a long time. Phillips has also said in the past that he can envision Fitzgerald staying at NU for as long as Joe Paterno has stayed at Penn State. Paterno is entering his 45th year as the Nittany Lions’ head coach.

After Fitzgerald received serious interest from Michigan a week after the bowl game, Phillips amped up the extension talks and the two parties agreed in principal to a deal, at the time, that was “over five years.”

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