EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern and Athletic Director Jim Phillips have agreed to a new 10-year contract that will keep Phillips at Northwestern until 2020, University President Morton Schapiro announced today.
“Jim Phillips is one of the most talented, energetic and hard-working persons I have ever met,” said Schapiro. “I predict that, under his leadership, we will achieve even greater athletic success while always remaining true to the academic values that define Northwestern.”
“I am incredibly humbled and deeply appreciative of President Schapiro, Chairman Osborn, Mr. Ryan and our entire Board of Trustees for the trust, faith and confidence they have shown in me with this new contract,” Phillips said. “This is an exciting time for Northwestern Athletics; we are having unprecedented success on the field and in the classroom. Very sincerely, I am honored to be able to continue working to provide a world-class experience for all of our student-athletes.”
Phillips became Northwestern’s 21st director of intercollegiate athletics on April 14, 2008, and quickly worked to put his stamp on the department through the hiring and signing of quality head coaches. He attracted highly regarded women’s basketball coach Joe McKeown and field hockey legend Tracey Fuchs into the Wildcat family, elevated assistant coaches Drew Pariano (wrestling) and Jarod Schroeder (men’s swimming) and signed women’s lacrosse coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller and men’s soccer mentor Tim Lenahan to long-term extensions. Most notable, Phillips inked head football coach Pat Fitzgerald to a seven-year deal in June of 2009 before extending that contract to 10 years in May of 2011.
On the field, Northwestern has continued to succeed across the board at a very high level. Football has won 24 games in the last three seasons, qualifying for the 2008 Alamo Bowl and back-to-back New Year’s Day bowls after appearances in the 2010 Outback Bowl and 2011 TicketCity Bowl. Men’s basketball has won a school-record 20 games in each of the last two years while making three consecutive NIT appearances, advancing all the way to the quarterfinals in 2011. Women’s basketball has reached back-to-back NIT tournaments as well, moving on to the third round in 2010 and the second round in 2011.
Elsewhere, women’s lacrosse has won six of the last seven NCAA national championships while appearing in the title game in all seven of those seasons. Women’s tennis became the first northern school ever to capture the ITA National Indoor championship in 2009 before earning its second straight crown in 2010 to go along with its 12th-consecutive Big Ten title. In Phillips’ time at Northwestern, women’s lacrosse, softball, men’s golf, women’s fencing, women’s tennis and wrestling all have won team or individual conference championships.
Academically, Northwestern earned a school-record 201 Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2010-11 and the NU football program won its sixth AFCA Academic Achievement Award since 1998 for recording a perfect 100 percent graduation rate for the freshman class of 2003-04. In the spring quarter of 2011, NU student-athletes combined to earn a 3.22 overall GPA — the second-highest in the athletic department’s history.
Phillips has worked to raise awareness of Northwestern’s brand in Chicago, launching the “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” marketing campaign in 2010-11 while moving an NU home football game to Wrigley Field in what was the first college football game played at the Friendly Confines since 1938. The Allstate Wrigleyville Classic attracted nationwide attention and ESPN’s College Gameday.
Phillips launched the first master facility plan study in Northwestern history in November of 2010. The final plan will establish an architectural program to align athletic facilities design and use with new services, identify priorities for improvements or options for existing facilities, propose strategies to stage renovations and identify where and when additional facilities may be needed in the future.