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Northwestern has new deal with Fitzgerald

- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

EVANSTON, ILL. (AP) - Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern have agreed to a new deal that keeps the coach under contract through the 2020 season.

The agreement had been in the works for several months and the school officially announced it Tuesday without disclosing financial terms.

"I'm humbled and appreciative of the commitment shown by Northwestern," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "With this support from our administration, our coaches and players expect to compete for championships."

Fitzgerald was under contract through 2015, but got the new deal after leading the Wildcats to a 34-29 record over five seasons and bowl appearances the past three years. Northwestern went 7-6 in 2010 and lost to Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl.

An All-American linebacker in the 1990s, Fitzgerald helped the Wildcats reach the Rose Bowl but missed that game because of a broken leg. He became Northwestern's coach after Randy Walker's unexpected death in June 2006. Michigan expressed interest in Fitzgerald after firing coach Rich Rodriguez, but he stayed put.

Along with the new deal, Fitzgerald could be looking at upgraded facilities in the next few years. Northwestern is looking into renovating its football stadium and basketball arena as well as upgrading the rest of its athletic facilities and adding new ones.

"It is paramount for Northwestern football to have great leadership," athletic director Jim Phillips said in a statement. "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."

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