If Northwestern wants to try to climbing the ladder in college football, they certainly are on the right track. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald has done a remarkable job in getting the Wildcats to believe in their ability to win football games, highlighted by the school’s first bowl victory since 1948 last postseason, and this year are expected to compete for a shot in the Big Ten championship game. Now, according to a report by USA Today, it appears as though the school is paying Fitzgerald like a big time head coach.
Per the report, citing tax documents, Fitzgerald was credited with more than $2.2 million in compensation in 2011. That is about $1 million more than what he is reported to have received in 2010. The increase in pay makes Fitzgerald the highest paid employee by Northwestern, which goes to show the new philosophy about the importance of the football program at the university largely built on a academic profile (if you have not read Fourth And Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football, do yourself a favor and do so as this change in philosophy at Northwestern is one of the key points to the book). According to USA Today, this marks the first time since 2005 a head coach within Northwestern’s athletics department was the highest paid employee by the school.
Of note, Fitzgerald received a base pay of $1.97 million and $82,500 in bonuses and incentives. Fitzgerald agreed to his new contract with the school in 2011. The school felt a need to make a move to secure their former player and face of the program after Michigan was thought to make an attempt to lure him away to Ann Arbor. Michigan had parted ways with Rich Rodriguez and eventually hired Brady Hoke from San Diego State. Fitzgerald has remained firmly committed to being the head coach at Northwestern and may not have left his alma mater anyway, but having a nice pay raise certainly helps when it comes time to making a decision.
Fitzgerald has earned his money in Evanston, few would argue that.
Northwestern opens their home schedule on Saturday against Syracuse.