Northwestern coaches Fitzgerald, Collins get long-term deals

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EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Northwestern locked up its homegrown football and basketball coaches for the long term.

Football coach Pat Fitzgerald signed a new contract that runs through the 2026 season. Basketball coach Chris Collins' contract was extended through the 2024-25 season. Both are Chicago-area natives.

''At Northwestern we place a premium on `institutional fit', and we have assuredly found leaders for our football and men's basketball programs that fit this university and our mission to deliver a world-class experience to our student-athletes,'' athletic director Jim Phillips said in a statement Tuesday.

''We are distinct in having head coaches for our two anchor programs who are homegrown. Pat Fitzgerald grew up on the city's southwest side. Chris Collins attended high school less than 10 miles from Welsh-Ryan Arena. They not only understand this area, they are intimately linked to it, now for many years to come.''

The 42-year-old Fitzgerald has been head coach at his alma mater since 2006. He is 77-62 with the Wildcats, including seven bowl appearances and two bowl victories. Northwestern had not won a bowl game since 1948. The former Northwestern linebacker has led the Wildcats to two 10-win seasons since 2012 and is the school's winningest coach.

''This is home for me and my family, and I love this university,'' Fitzgerald said. ''I'm extremely privileged to coach the exceptional young men we invite here to earn the best education in college football and compete at the highest level in the Big Ten Conference. The best is yet to come, and we're excited for the future.''

The 43-year-old Collins, a former Illinois Mr. Basketball as a high school player, is 73-60 in four seasons at Northwestern. The former Duke player and assistant coach led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament for the first time last season.

''I have absolutely loved coaching here, the support that we've received from the university, its leadership and our fans has been exceptional,'' Collins said. ''We love being a part of the Northwestern family and we can't wait to continue building on the foundation established over the last four seasons.''